HIMSSCast: How improv actors are helping doctors break bad news


The Orsini Way has been helping train doctors on handling patient relationships for a number of years, and New Jersey’s Englewood Health has been a long-time user of the innovative teaching method.

But last year, as doctor-patient interactions overwhelmingly went online, already difficult patient-doctor interactions became even more fraught. In today’s episode, host Jonah Comstock welcomes Dr. Anthony Orsini, founder and president of The Orsini Way, and Dr. Tanganyika Barnes, program director for internal medicine at Englewood Health, to talk about their novel training approach and how they have had to adapt it in response to COVID-19 and the telemedicine boom.

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Talking points:

  • What the Orsini Way is and how it came about.
  • The deficit in communication training for physicians, especially around delivering bad news.
  • How the program has worked at Englewood.
  • Why the program uses professional improv actors.
  • The importance of one-on-one instruction and self-reflection.
  • Communication training as a form of medical simulation.
  • The long-term effects of delivering news badly.
  • How the program was adapted for telehealth.
  • What not to do when delivering bad news.
  • ROI of trust and communication.
  • Where we need to go vis-a-vis patient empathy.

More about this story:

The Orsini Way

Englewood Health

Difficult Conversations (Dr. Orsini’s podcast)

Clinicians’ empathy must not be sidelined by virtual care technologies

Conveying empathy through digital tools requires education, support

Patient advocates: Tech can help improve experience, but empathy is most important

HIMSS and Cleveland Clinic’s Patient Experience Digital Series



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