PHILADELPHIA —The Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation will fund three new initiatives in the second round of its  Innovation Grant Program. The program encourages Penn employees and students to submit their ideas for advancing health and health care delivery. Winners receive funding and support from the Center for Health Care Innovation to facilitate the rapid translation of ideas into action and measurable outcomes over six months. 

Fifty-six different ideas were submitted for review this spring. The winners include a cloud-based platform for ICU EEG monitoring and visualization of test results, a telemedicine effort to improve access to genetic testing and counseling services, and technology to improve prenatal services. Each winner will receive design support and between $5,000 and $75,000 in funding to further develop and test their idea.

“The innovation grant program allows us to help thought leaders across Penn Medicine accelerate programs and practices with the potential to make a meaningful difference in health care delivery,” said David Asch, MD, MBA, professor of medicine and executive director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation.  “We were excited by the level of interest from our colleagues, and we are eager to begin work in June.”

Cloud-based platform for ICU EEG monitoring and visualizing results
A team led by Brian Litt, MD, a professor in Neurology & Bioengineering, will build an automated, cloud-based platform for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) electroencephalogram (EEG) interpretation. 
Patients are monitored continuously with EEGs in ICUs worldwide. Recent studies show a large percentage of ICU patients have seizures, brain ischemia, encephalopathy, or other conditions that can be detected early on an EEG, allowing therapy to be initiated promptly. 

However, continuous long-term EEG monitoring currently presents two major problems: it must be interpreted manually by physicians, delaying the delivery of results to the caregivers, and those caregivers rely on written reports from these studies, thus inhibiting the ability to view trends over time or forecast when a patient’s condition may deteriorate. The project aims to build an automated, cloud-based system for interpreting long-term ICU EEG data to speed response to changes in patients’ conditions and improve patient outcomes.

Telemedicine to improve access to genetic services
Angela R. Bradbury, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology in the Abramson Cancer Center, will use telemedicine to increase access to genetic testing and counseling services.

Genetic testing for cancer susceptibility is now an essential component of oncology care, increasing the need for genetic counseling specialists to assist in care of patients and their families.  Testing is typically available only at large, academic facilities, leaving many providers and patients without access to genetic counseling locally. Genetic testing should always be conducted in conjunction with proper pre- and post- test counseling to contextualize the test and outline what the results may mean.  As genomic applications in oncology expand, the demand for genetic expertise will increase and gaps in delivery will worsen. Through an NIH study, Bradbury and her team showed telemedicine can be an effective way to expand genetic services to populations with limited or no access to care.  The new project seeks to transition the team’s research-supported telemedicine program to a sustainable clinical model. 

Technology to Improve Prenatal Services
Spearheaded by Ian Bennett, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Family Medicine & Community Health, this initiative uses text messages to engage and educate patients, enabling early interventions to reduce poor pregnancy outcomes.

Low income women have high rates of poor pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth, and preeclampsia. While signs of these conditions and associated risk factors can be identified in the course of prenatal care and targeted by interventions, the effectiveness of prenatal visits can be limited by patient literacy and engagement, as well as limited time to educate them. Delays in the identification of these disorders can result in poor perinatal outcomes.

Penn Medicine’s Helen O. Dickens Center for Women serves more than 3,000 low income patients each year, primarily African American women who are at increased risk for these outcomes. The project will create an application to deliver information regarding signs and symptoms of adverse pregnancy conditions to at risk women via text message. Fundamental to this project is the belief that an informed and engaged patient will increase the effectiveness of monitoring for pregnancy disorders.

Funding totaling $300,000 supported the first round Innovation Grant winners in October 2013. More information on these initiatives is available here.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $8.6 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $494 million awarded in the 2019 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 43,900 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2019, Penn Medicine provided more than $583 million to benefit our community.

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