CHESTPress ReleasesFirst 5 Minutes® health equity initiative launches in Bexar County

First 5 Minutes® health equity initiative launches in Bexar County

San Antonio – Aimed at improving patient care, the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) is launching the First 5 Minutes®, an empathetic health care initiative, on June 18 in Bexar County, Texas.

The First 5 Minutes focuses on:

  • Enhancing cultural competency by building an understanding of barriers to care

  • Strengthening rapport and trust between clinician and patient

  • Meaningfully encouraging patients to be active participants in their health care and treatment

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.

"What we heard was an overwhelming lack of access to health care, inequity in treatment and a dishearteningly low level of trust between patients and their health care teams. There are no quick fixes for these deep-rooted issues," says CEO of the American College of Chest Physicians, Robert Musacchio, PhD. "However, doing nothing to change this situation and improve patient care is not an option. The First 5 Minutes program is a way we can impact change on a person-to-person level."

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.

Barriers to the establishment of trust as expressed by patient participants during the Listening Tour are related to:

  • 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

  • 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.

"Every 15 minutes, a medical provider is expected to see another patient. It can be challenging to demonstrate compassion and care in this brief window. Still, it is essential," says Past President of the American College of Chest Physicians, Stephanie Levine, MD, FCCP, who serves on the program's steering committee. "The actions and words of the clinician have a tremendous impact on patient care. I'm proud to learn alongside my Texas colleagues. Together, we can serve as an example of how to improve the way we care for our patients to ensure every patient we treat feels welcomed, respected and included in the decision-making process."

To learn more about the First 5 Minutes program and to sign up for updates, visit:

About the American College of Chest Physicians
The American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) is the global leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chest diseases. Its mission is to champion advanced clinical practice, education, communication and research in chest medicine. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 19,000+ members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. For information about the American College of Chest Physicians, and its flagship journal CHEST®, visit

1 Findings drawn from US Census Bureau:

This program is supported by Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bexar County, Sanofi and Regeneron.