Organizations that address consumers’ data privacy and access to healthcare create greater social brand equity, inspiring people to say nice things about the companies, recommend them as good employers, and be welcomed as businesses operating in peoples’ community.

In The Societal ROI Index: A Measure for The Times We Find Ourselves In, Finn Partners and The Harris Poll measure U.S. companies’ reputations for social good, the project’s press release explains. “Our new data shows that the public has a definite opinion about what issues they feel companies should address and the social impact bar has been set high,” according to Amy Terpeluk, senior partner at Finn Partners.

The Index is based on a survey of 25,800 U.S. adults conducted in December 2017 into January 2018. The Index score runs from a low of 0 to a high of 100.

The Index rests of three pillars: visible values, civic mindedness, and ethical stewardship. Underneath these three factors are attributes including:

  • Exhibiting excellent leadership
  • Maintaining high ethical standards
  • Fairly rewarding employees
  • Behaving responsible toward people in communities where the organization operates
  • Speaking out on societal issues that are important to me
  • Being accountable for actions.

Consumers’ ranking an organization with a high societal ROI sounds like a “nice-to-have” rating. However, there’s a hard return-on-investment for companies that are top performers versus those who rank low. The second graphic shows that top performers compel a consumer to more likely say something positive about the organization; recommend the company as a good place to work; and, welcome the company expanding in the consumer’s community.

The top performing companies fell into grocery, technology, and consumer packaged goods segments. Food retailers fetched particularly high scores on the Index: among the top 20  performers were six grocery chains, plus Amazon for ecommerce. The top grocers included Wegmans, which ranked first on the entire poll for SROI score, followed by Aldi, Publix, HEB, Publix, Whole Foods, and Kroger. The top tech company was Microsoft, and Patagonia the top consumer goods retailer.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  This poll was released a few days before I was interviewed by Greg Matthews (@Chimoose) for his DataPoint podcast. In planning for our conversation, our intention was to discuss the data elements of the social determinants of health, and challenges in (1) collecting particularly useful and elusive data points from peoples’ everyday lives; and, (2) challenging issues of data privacy.

The week before our dialogue happened was also really bad news for Facebook (hearkening back to the Cambridge Analytica revelation and implications for healthcare), along with the Google/DeepMind story concerning the AI company’s planned “absorption” into Google. Tech stocks were taking a hit on the stock market, and data privacy was once again above-the-fold in newspapers, broadcast media, and social networks.

As we who work at the intersection of health and tech increasingly have to do, based on the pace of change in this converging world, Greg and I pivoted a bit to first contextualize our discussion with the Finn Partners/Harris data: specifically, U.S. consumers’ top priorities of data privacy and healthcare access for valuing societal return-on-investment.

For most of the past decade, I’ve evangelized the evolving role of the patient-as-payor, and the central role of financial wellness in Americans’ everyday lives and household budgets. Healthcare costs have become Americans’ top pocketbook issue.

Now we add data privacy to this mix — call it, “data well-being.” Because people are getting stressed about how their digital data — from retail receipts to gene and lab tests and wearable tech metrics — are being stored, stewarded and secured, and shared with third parties.

The “Trust in platforms” graphic comes from KPMG’s new report, Me, My Life, My Wallet, which examines how consumers around the world make decisions. This snippet focuses in on U.S. consumer data, finding 4 in 5 people use platforms, but only one-fifth of them completely trust the platforms. “In the healthcare sector, patient privacy has always been sacrosanct, but that notion was formed in a world where sensitive information was largely confined to conversations in a doctor’s surgery or behind drawn curtains on a hospital ward,” Mark Britnell KPMG Global Chairman for Healthcare is quoted. Today, “our health is played out across an amalgam of devices, apps, platforms, and companies,” he explains in the report.

Consumers want to control their personal information, and potentially monetize it. After all, if companies are already using personal data-for-profit in their business models, then why shouldn’t “I” financially benefit from that? more people ask.

Furthermore, “If [your insurance company is] offering you two or three times the amount of money that every other insurance company’s offering you, there’s something else they value in the data that they’re giving you that cash for,” NPR quoted Andrew Boyd, the associate chief health information officer at the University of Illinois Hospital. “If Congress ever repeals the Affordable Care Act, insurers could use the fitness data they’re collecting today to deny you coverage based on a medical condition that your tracker picks up,” Boyd warns in NPR’s Shots blog.

So consumers are connecting dots in this Brave New World of health data mashing up with other personal information. And those organizations who respect the consumers’ privacy, and value healthcare as a social right, are garnering more favor with most Americans Finn Partners and Harris Poll folks inform us.

You can link to my conversation with Greg on his DataPoint podcast site here. Please let me know, via comment below, what you think once you’ve listened in on our discussion. The convergence of data privacy, healthcare, and consumers’ rights will only get thornier.