June 2020 Newsletter

Our 5th Annual Summit



The Coalition held it's 5th annual summit on June 22, 2020. The virtual Zoom event drew an audience of more than 225 people. Executive Director Anna Gosline led Dr. Atul Gawande, Andrew Dreyfus, Maureen Bisognano and Kate DeBartolo in a conversation examining pressing issues raised by COVID-19, including racial inequities in healthcare, the rise of innovations such as telehealth and how the pandemic has increased awareness and understanding of the need for advance care planning. Moving videos featuring members of the Coalition's working groups sharing their darkest moments, biggest changes, and greatest hopes were a reminder that we can only advance our collective work together. Stay tuned as the Coalition's working groups leverage this unprecedented season.

View Summit and Videos

Let's Keep Talking


There is still time to share feedback on the Summit. We really value the guidance, so please share yours on this evaluation. One of the biggest take-aways we've heard so far: we need more time to connect and keep talking. So we'll be following up with more opportunities to come together in the coming weeks about the issues raised and the work ahead, from the big picture challenges to all our practical questions.

One issue we know we'll be revisiting is racism and what we can all do to be anti-racist in our lives, communities and work. Kate DeBartolo, Director of The Conversation Project, published this piece a few weeks ago, which includes resources and ideas to help us strengthen our ally muscles, as one Summit participant suggested. From online trainings, books and articles, to Black leaders and thinkers to follow on social media, there are many ways to deepen our understanding of, and engagement in, the fight for justice, and do the work to prepare ourselves for future conversations and action. The #sharethemicnow campaign on Instagram is also an amazing way to find and connect with Black women writers, thinkers and anti-racism educators. Additionally, Cake developed a page with articles and resources focused on inequality in end-of-life care and advance care planning.

Members are innovating around patient communication

Coalition members are coming up with innovative ways to help healthcare providers, patients, and caregivers communicate and stay connected:

  • Brigham and Women's Hospital Palliative Care and Harvard Medical School's COVID-19 ICU Get to Know You Project are helping health providers connect with their patients. Families and caregivers share stories and photos with first year medical students who use them to make moving portraits to hang outside patient rooms.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital included third year medical students in their proactive outreach to high risk primary care patients. Using well-crafted scripts and with support from mentors, students gained valuable serious illness communication skills and had an opportunity to connect with patients who were grateful for the touch and care.
  • The innovations in telehealth adopted by the palliative care team at UMass Memorial Health during COVID-19 are likely here to stay. The team has been having great success holding virtual family meetings side-by-side with primary care providers, subspecialists, and nursing home staff. These conversations are met with relief and gratitude.
  • The rise of telehealth has created a learning curve for some healthcare workers. Ariadne Labs has created a communications guide for healthcare providers to help them have better telehealth advance care planning conversations with their patients. It includes tips and video examples of virtual conversations.

You can find more stories like these by following our Twitter feed and LinkedIn page. We are always looking for great stories and ideas. Email them to Anna or Stephanie and let them know if you would like to join a working group.