First 5 Minutes aims to improve patient care in Bexar County

The First 5 Minutes™, an empathetic health care initiative, has been launched in the Bexar County, Texas with the aim of improving patient care while focusing on rapport and trust building between clinician and patient; encouraging patients to be active in their own health care and treatment; and enhancing cultural competency by building an understanding of barriers to care.

Up to 24 practicing Texas-based clinicians will participate in this in-person pilot training program at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

The First 5 Minutes™ program grew from a five-city Listening Tour in the Fall of 2020. CHEST hosted virtual calls in areas of the United States, including Bexar County, experiencing disproportionately high incidents of and mortality from COVID-19. The goal of the patient-focused tour was to gain insight and identify solutions to combat health inequities among marginalized communities.

Disparities within health care continue to increase as 28 million people in the US live without health care coverage, and 13.4 million people don’t have internet access to health resources.1 Small but intentional changes in the interaction between patients and their clinicians can significantly improve patient care and the patient experience, leading to better outcomes.

Some of the major reasons behind barriers to the establishment of trust include perceived dismissive attitudes among physicians; lack of understanding and/or appreciation of social determinants of health; overuse of highly technical/medical terminology that can be intimidating to patients; and general cultural and philosophical differences that may contribute to implicit biases.

The interactive training model of the First 5 Minutes™, led by relationship-centered communication trainers, has the goal of being a nationwide in-person and e-learning program. To improve the participant’s empathetic listening, trust-building communication skills are part of the core curriculum, which includes:

  • Understanding one’s implicit bias and its impact on patient care through small group discussion and activities
  • Relationship-centered interviewing and how it positively correlates to patient and clinician outcomes
  • Role-playing exercises demonstrating how rapport is established
  • Exercises covering the steps of patient- and clinician-centered interviewing

To strengthen the patient-clinician relationship and, ultimately, the patient experience, the First 5 Minutes™ program will provide physicians the tools needed to establish trust and rapport with their patients, even under time constraints.

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