Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP

PHILADELPHIA — Digital health care innovator and Emergency Medicine physician Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, has been named an Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow. The prestigious two-year Fellowship is designed to strengthen the leadership of innovators across the U.S. health care ecosystem and challenge them to create new approaches to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. Merchant is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, an associate vice president for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and serves as the director of the Center for Digital Health at Penn Medicine.

Merchant’s research focuses on the intersection of innovation diffusion, social media, and resuscitation science, and involves the development and testing of cutting edge health related mobile apps. Over the years, she has conducted several studies evaluating ways in which care providers can use communication on social and mobile media sites to predict health outcomes. To date, she has published studies that are shaping the way health providers are using big data from social media to improve care for patients including influential publications and thought-leadership pieces in leading medical journals including New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, JAMA Cardiology, JAMA Oncology, Circulation, BMJ Quality & Safety, and the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“Dr. Merchant is a visionary young leader in academic medicine who has brought fresh innovations to combat pervasive public health problems,” said Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “At a time when many people, including some health care leaders, saw social media content as frivolous, Raina saw a testing ground for learning about broad populations and ultimately, a new way to improve care for patients. We are proud to see her work moving forward and are eager to see how the Aspen Institute will help steer her work in novel directions to achieve greater impact for diverse populations.”

Merchant joins the fourth class of the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellows. The Fellows come from all parts of the country and hail from a wide variety of health care industries and sectors—including medicine, pharmaceuticals, public health, biotechnology, insurance, mental health, government, venture capital, genomics, and more.

The Health Innovators Fellows will spend four weeks over the course of two years exploring their leadership, core values, desired legacies, and their vision for the health care system. Each Fellow commits to launching a leadership venture that will stretch and challenge them and have a positive impact on health care in the U.S. The Health Innovators Fellows join more than 3,000 other entrepreneurial leaders from over 60 countries to become members of the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN).

The Health Innovators Fellowship was created in partnership with the Greenville Health System in 2015 to strengthen the leadership of innovators across the US health care ecosystem and to connect, inspire, and challenge them to create new approaches that will improve the health and well-being of all Americans. This two-year program is modeled on both the highly successful Henry Crown Fellowship and the Liberty Fellowship, using the time-tested method of text-based dialogue and building upon the Aspen Institute’s commitment to values-based, action-oriented leadership. The Aspen Institute controls the content of the Fellowship and the selection of the Fellows.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, 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 an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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