RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation


Every day, consumers expect the American healthcare system to deliver timely, safe, and compassionate care of the highest quality at a cost that is financially responsible and sustainable. The secret to meeting these demands can be surprisingly simple.

Why focus on culture transformation?

Patients want to trust their caregivers, and the most effective way for physicians and medical teams to gain trust is to establish deep and meaningful connections with patients and their families through open, honest communication. That’s also the way to build trust among the physicians, nurses, and other members of the medical team who deliver quality care. Bridging the trust gap will pave the way to a patient-centered, team-based culture and lead to higher levels of performance, patient satisfaction and loyalty.

How does the RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation process work?

Physicians spend 70 percent of their time talking with patients, staff and each other. How effectively they connect with those audiences affects patient outcomes and perceptions, and creates the culture and tone of the work environment. Because the single most important factor determining patient satisfaction is the quality of the interaction with the physician, physician leadership and engagement in this work is critical.

RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation offers a sustainable solution for improving patient and employee satisfaction by providing peer-to-peer training in how to communicate effectively. The process begins by identifying physician and allied health leaders who are respected by their colleagues and who support the effort to rekindle relationship-based communication tools. Then, these leaders are trained to train their colleagues to improve their skills:

  1. The formal and informal physician and allied health leaders complete a five-day training program that teaches the core communication curriculum and facilitation skills, including how to create a safe space for participants to express vulnerability and receive feedback.
  2. Fully trained physician and allied health leaders take the program to their peers in the form of a four-hour workshop. Typically, organizations train up to 25 physicians and 100 allied health caregivers a month.
  3. As respected members of the medical staff and healthcare teams, internal trainers break down resistance to new concepts and drive acceptance of skill-building, even among experienced physicians and staff.
  4. In-house program leaders promote internal sustainability as they train new employees, conduct refresher courses, and pass on their skills to future leaders.

What does RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation cover?

All of the following topics are covered in the course:

  1. Achieving mindfulness/presence
  2. Reflective listening
  3. Gathering information accurately and efficiently, without changing the story
  4. Setting the agenda jointly
  5. Using RELATIONSTM to connect physicians, nurses, allied health staff and patients. “RELATIONSTM” stands for “Respect, Empathy, Legitimization, Apology, Trust, Integrity, Openness, Naming, and Support.”
  6. Integrating appreciation throughout all of the work

 Does RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation training really work?

RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation provides a culture-changing program, not a quick fix. It takes 9-12 months to realize measurable benefits and up to four years to achieve maximum results. Leaders who make the commitment to nurture a culture built on relationship-based, patient-centered communications can expect a 5-1 return on their investment. The numbers have added up for some of the nation’s leading healthcare organizations.

  • After Mission Health instituted a program focused on developing caregivers’ communication skills in a team setting, the Asheville, North Carolina, health system saw across-the-board improvement in several key performance metrics. It ranked among the top 10% of hospitals in six Value-Based Purchasing HCAHPS measures and in overall mortality. Physician and allied health staff ratings of specific aspects of teamwork increased significantly, along with Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality metrics. These improvements translated into top returns on value-based payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and private insurers. And, for four consecutive years, Mission Health was named one of Truven Health Analytics’ Top 15 Health Systems.
  • Implementation of a RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation approach has led to double-digit improvement in employee satisfaction, reflected in service to others, mutual respect mutual respect and teamwork for several of our organizations we have worked with. For two consecutive years after introducing the program, one of the organizations was a top national performer in patient experience ratings based on excellence.
  • In addition some of the organizations that have successfully introduced RELATIONSTM for Healthcare Transformation curriculum in conjunction with TeamSTEPPS® training and noted significant progress on its journey toward improvements in patient safety through evidence-based teamwork.

 How can you realize the benefits of more effective communication?

Call 800-742-3322 or visit to explore how you can implement this critical work in your organization.


Train-the-Trainer Program

This program is five days split into three days of training followed by a one month interval where individual work is executed, followed by two additional days of training. When the training is complete, faculty at your institution are able to effectively deliver the four hour communication curriculum to their colleagues.

This program is developed with content targeted for each group (physician and allied health caregivers) so that content and facilitation skills match the needs of the respective audiences.

One hundred physician faculty facilitators have been trained at 17 institutions allowing for the delivery of the communication program to the entire physician staff (hospital and ambulatory) at these institutions.

Training can be successfully tailored and delivered at university hospitals, large and small community hospitals, pediatric hospitals, department of public health, hospice, military hospitals, and multiple ambulatory clinics (primary and specialty).

Mechanisms to engage physicians in a non-employed setting have been successfully implemented.

Approximately 100 allied health faculty facilitators trained and successfully delivered the program to over 11,000 allied health caregivers. The program has been adopted for residents, fellows, and medical students at teaching organizations.

Accreditation Statement: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of Carolinas HealthCare System/Charlotte AHEC and The Institute for Healthcare Excellence. The Carolinas HealthCare System/Charlotte AHEC is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Statement: The Carolinas HealthCare System/Charlotte AHEC designates this Live Activity for a maximum 38.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Continuing Education Credits (CEUs): The Charlotte Area Health Education Center (AHEC) designates this continuing education program as fulfilling the requirement for 3.82 Continuing Education Units (CEUs), representing 38.25 contact hours.

Additional Programs:

• End of life communication

Individual physician coaching

Culturally sensitive communication


Breaking bad news

• Disclosure of adverse events

• Relationship centered leadership

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