First 5 Minutes Program: Marginal Changes, Major Impact

The first 5 minutes and their effect on the patient relationship

Every 15 minutes, a medical provider is expected to see another patient. In this brief window, it can be challenging to demonstrate compassion and care, but it is essential. Shared patient stories reflect that the first 5 minutes of an interaction between a patient and their provider can set the tone for the entire relationship.

To strengthen this relationship and, ultimately, the patient experience, the American College of Chest Physicians is launching the First 5 Minutes program to provide physicians with the tools needed to establish trust and rapport with their patients, even under time constraints.

The problem

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing disparities in modern health care. Trust was put to the test as historically marginalized communities experienced the highest rates of the virus, and, in a time of telemedicine, those without reliable internet access lost access to care entirely.

A result of systemic and historical barriers, these and other health care inequalities are not new, but the pandemic fueled an existing fire of disparity for underrepresented populations. In the US alone...

  • 28 million people live without health care coverage.
  • 13.4 million people don’t have internet access to health resources.
  • 37.2 million people live below the poverty line.
  • 41.4 million people have a limiting disability.
  • 10.3 million households don’t have a working car.

During a listening tour conducted by the CHEST Foundation, patients shared common issues they face in health care, including lack of access, lack of equity, and lack of trust.

260x260 Rivera“I don’t know if I was ever asked, ‘Hey, can you afford this health care? Can you afford this visit?’ It has been assumed, many times to our hurt, because we have had to make decisions based on our financial limitations. [There were] medications that I couldn’t take because I couldn’t afford them.”
–Orlando Rivera, patient and Listening Tour participant

The first step

Lack of access, trust, and equity are daunting issues that cannot be fixed quickly or by one organization. What can be accomplished is better training to enrichen the first interaction between a patient and their physician. As an empathetic training model, the First 5 Minutes™program will focus 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

150x150 adegunsoye

“[There is a] need to touch on issues that matter to the patients, not issues that matter for the diagnosis alone. You're trying to view the patient as a total human being and not just a specific disease.”

–Ayodeji Adegunsoye, MD, FCCP


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Through a series of coast-to-coast conversations involving patients, medical professionals, community leaders, and elected officials, the CHEST Foundation worked to understand challenges that patients face in accessing health care. SEE WHAT WE FOUND »

Findings drawn from US Census Bureau


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