Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
10 TTUHSC Physicians Receive Official Academy of Communication in Healthcare Certification

Ten Physicians Receive Official Academy of Communication in Healthcare Certification

In early 2019, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center joined forces with the Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) in order to equip our clinical staff and clinicians with robust communication tools that can enhance patient encounters. ACH has been researching and teaching relationship-centered communication for more than 40 years. With their assistance, TTUHSC has now certified 10 faculty members to train clinicians and clinical staff in our organization. These trainers are Allan Haynes, M.D., Dana Phillips, M.D., Drew Payne, D.O., Ron Cook, D.O., Melissa Sanford, M.D., Charla Allen, M.D., Jamie Haynes, M.D., Joe Cordero, M.D., Jamie Felberg, M.D., and Hilmi Alam, M.D.

Since April of 2019, these individuals have been through intensive training to facilitate workshops that are peer-to-peer learning environments in which three fundamental skill sets are practiced. These involve establishing rapport with patients and an agenda for the visit, listening to them reflectively and responding with empathy, and using a teach-back method to ensure understanding of information shared in the visit. These techniques have been proven to increase patient understanding of their care plan, increase medication adherence, decrease correspondence made to the clinician and office following a visit, and decrease emergency room admissions. The skills taught through ACH can make appointments with patients more timely, organized, and leave the patient feeling more satisfied with their level of care and relationship with their clinician.

The positive side-effects of this program have been seen in such organizations like Cleveland Clinic, Baylor, Scott, and White, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Because of the success had by many other medical institutions, the leadership at TTUHSC made the decision to bring ACH in to provide our selected trainers with the ability to train all clinicians. The next step in our relationship-centered communication plan is to develop curriculum for nurses and patient services specialists in order to equip all involved in the care of our patients with strong communication skills. Attending this workshop provides 6 hours of CME credit towards the annual requirement of the Texas Medical Board for continuing medical education credit in medical ethics or professional responsibility.

TTUHSC has created a Communication Enhancement Team to help support this initiative.  This team will connect with all workshop participants at 30, 60, and 90 days after attendance.  The team will support attendees with skills reinforcement and be available to answer questions or work through individual patient interaction scenarios.

Providing our patients with the best possible experience while receiving care is a top priority of our organization. By arming our clinical staff with a toolkit of methods that allows for better communication with patients, we expect to improve all aspects of the patient experience. From this also comes improved relationships with colleagues as these communication skills can be applied to all situations, whether professional or personal.

We look forward the progression of our program here at TTUHSC and seeing all clinical staff over the next year attending these workshops. Please be on the lookout for an email from Jolene Turpin with information on the course and instructions for signing up. 

Physicians recipients 

  • Charla Allen M.D.
  • Hilmi Alam M.D.
  • Ron Cook M.D.
  • Joe Cordero, M.D.
  • Jamie Felberg, M.D
  • Jamie Haynes, M.D
  • Alan Haynes, M.D
  • Dana Phillips, M.D.

Not pictured: Melissa Sanford, M.D. and Drew Payne, D.O.