What if a health care organization decided that in every patient-staff encounter, the relationship with the patient was as important as high-quality medical care? What if the measure of a strong care team was not just knowledgeable medical staff, but also staff with lived expertise who excelled at connecting with patients? What if a health system prioritized trusting relationships and partnerships with the communities they serve as much as they focused on profit and productivity?
Through Advancing Integrated Models (AIM), supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by the Center for Health Care Strategies, we assisted eight health care pilot sites in supporting integrated and person-centered care for people with complex health and social needs. The pilots took many guises, from integrating community health workers into care teams, to overhauling a care management system to ease navigation for providers and patients, to redesigning how pediatric care was delivered with input from families. And we used many names for the work — trauma-informed care, anti-racist care, care to address health-related social needs. Despite the many variations, a consistent theme emerged across all of the pilots — prioritizing relationships was the driving force behind transformation. It was the “secret sauce” enabling culture change.