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May 26, 2020

As Ashwin Kotwal and Lynn Flint note in the introduction to their Annals of Internal Medicine essay (, one year ago people were outraged at the thought of a physician using video to deliver bad news to a seriously ill man in the ICU. And look at where we are today. Video and telephone consults at home, in the ICU, and in the ED are common, accepted, and normal. What a difference a year makes. This week, in addition to Ashwin and Lynn, we talk with Claire Ankuda and Chris Woodrell from Mt Sinai in NYC about their experience with telephone and video palliative care. Claire and Chris recently published a terrific NEJM Catalyst piece about their remarkable ramp up of a telephone based palliative care consult service. Take a look at the figure depicting time trends of health system confirmed/suspected COVID19 cases in their health system and the dramatic rise in tele-palliative care consults ( Their service peaked at 50 consults per day, and as they note, that is likely an undercount. About half of the consults were in the ED. Ashwin and Lynn talk about the nuts and bolts of of how to prepare and conduct video and telephone based serious illness discussions with patients, as described in their Annals essay. Eric and I talk briefly about our experience conducting palliative care consults remotely with patients at New York Presbyterian Columbia, described in our recent JAGS paper. And (bonus!) you get to sing along to "Call Me Maybe." - Alex Smith