How this New Jersey health system is training physicians to deliver bad news over telehealth

Englewood (N.J.) Health became the first health system to participate in a new virtual training program for clinicians using professional actors to simulate real patient encounters in which they have to deliver negative news over video chat. 

"Medical school doesn't prepare you to tell someone over telehealth that their loved one is dying," said Anthony Orsini, MD, practicing neonatologist at Orlando, Fla.-based Winnie Palmer Hospital and founder and president of the training program the Orsini Way, according to a Dec. 9 news release.

The training is done over video conferencing, where professional improvisational actors play patients to mimic real-life scenarios for physicians and nurses. After participating in the role-playing exercises, the clinicians then review their recorded sessions and receive coaching from instructors.

"The pandemic changed so much for so many. We had to quickly pivot to telehealth consultations at a time where our team was beyond overwhelmed," said Tanganyika Barnes, MD, director of Englewood Health's internal medicine residency program, adding that the health system's residents now have more confidence and communication skills to lead conversations with patients and their families both virtually and in person.


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