Healthcare team member assisting female patient Healthcare team member assisting female patient
Welcome to
REAL Connections

An innovative approach to patient engagement that turns evidence-based communication strategies into a simple, practical framework.

Our Program

REAL Connections Is a Simple Communication Framework to Help Engage Cancer Patients.

Builds Rapport. Conveys Empathy. Ensures Alignment. Supports Learning.

The program is built to be flexible, so healthcare teams can utilize all elements of the program or simply choose the pieces that help meet their needs. The framework has 3 main components:

Partnering for Education

Optimizes current education efforts by leveraging simple-to-use strategies and tools to help care teams identify when additional education is needed


  • Overview Guide
  • Core Questions for Engagement Guide
  • Patient Question Prompt List

Supporting Patient Goals

Assists care teams in better understanding what is important to the patient at the start of treatment and throughout the course of care


  • Overview Guide
  • Core Questions for Engagement Guide
  • Patient Goal Worksheet

Shared Expectations

Supports better outcomes with tools and resources that help bridge the communication gap and better align patients and care teams across the continuum


  • Overview Guide
  • Core Questions for Engagement Guide
  • Patient Support Sheet

Care Team-Facing tools include

Overview Guides explaining the rationale for each component

Core Questions for Engagement Guides with tips for enhanced patient communication

Patient-Facing tools are designed to

Help support the patient throughout the care continuum and can be leveraged for patient engagement between visits

Our Objective

To facilitate effective patient engagement in cancer care.

Communication gaps and ineffective processes to engage cancer patients create real issues in cancer care.

40-80% of the information patients receive during office visits is forgotten immediately and nearly half of the information retained is incorrect.1

73% of healthcare providers reported that a lack of systemic process to incorporate the patient voice was the greatest barrier to patient engagement.2,*

Over 30% of oncology patients from a 2015 CancerCare survey responded that they sometimes or often did not report symptoms or side effects because they did not want to “bother” their doctor.3


The REAL Connections program makes evidence-based communication possible in today’s cancer setting. Benefits include:


Aligns with key oncology quality improvement initiatives


Translates more complex communication strategies into easy-to-use tools that can be integrated into existing workflows


Choose the tools that are most helpful for you and your patients

For more information on the REAL Connections program, please inquire via e-mail:


You can begin using REAL Connections immediately. Simply download the REAL Connections Program Guide with all the tools and resources you need to get started.

*Result from The Patient Engagement Survey: Measuring What Matters and Capturing the Patient Voice was conducted by NEJM Catalyst, powered by the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council.

  • In May 2017, an online survey was sent to the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council
  • A total of 774 completed surveys are included in the analysis


  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Health literacy universal precautions toolkit, 2nd ed. Use the teach-back method: Tool #5.
  2. NEJM Catalyst. Measuring what matters and capturing the patient’s voice. Roundtable report.
  3. CancerCare. Patient Access & Engagement Report. New York, NY: CancerCare; 2016.


Content is consistent with the Oncology Nursing Society Standards and Guidelines. The Oncology Nursing Society Seal of Approval does not constitute medical advice and does not imply product endorsement by ONS. Healthcare providers should exercise their own independent medical judgment. Website content or other resources referenced in these materials have not been reviewed for the Oncology Nursing Society Seal of Approval.