SAN FRANCISCO — The dramatic changes in the healthcare sector have compelled the industry to reexamine ways to foster trust and engagement with consumers, according to a panel of experts at the In2 Innovation Summit during a session moderated by ReviveHealth CEO Brandon Edwards.

Edwards pointed to the 25 million people expected to be insured via exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act and $350 million spent by the government for public education on this. Meanwhile, although healthcare remains among the least trusted industries (after the federal government and oil and gas), doctors and nurses are among the most trusted.

“In the past, you used to have a family doctor who you could call,” said Anne Meneghetti, executive director of Epocrates, an athenahealth company. “Now days most physicians are part of larger organizations and the mom-and-pop shop is a growing rarity. So it’ll be interesting to see if that level of trust continues.”

The panel also pointed to the Deloitte survey that shows 43% of doctors use smartphones or tablets for clinical purposes, including electronic health records, e-prescribing and physician-to-physician communication -- and the same number of consumers are interested in communicating with doctors through their devices.

“I’m working on a story on telemedicine,” said Scott Mace, senior editor for HealthLeaders Media. “This is very much a growing trend...people don’t always have time to go into a doctor. And if they really need medical attention, they will.”

Meneghetti noted that younger consumers expect an “instant gratification” that’s not always possible with face-to-face appointments, whereas telemedicine appointments can be scheduled quickly.

According to a survey conducted by ReviveHealth, the biggest communications challenges under the healthcare reform laws are (in ranking order)  transparency in cost and care; advancing consumer knowledge; health insurance exchanges; and internal change management.

The promise of having mobile medical records and being able to track whether patients are taking medication were also discussed.