Philadelphia, Pa. — In this era, when you don’t know how to do something, you look it up on the internet. It could be a home improvement project or figuring out your car tire’s optimal pressure: you find a how-to video, a bulleted list of instructions, or download a helpful app to figure it out. Then, with a little more confidence than you had before, you tackle the job.
With that in mind, a new partnership between Penn Medicine and Quil is giving patients access to those same digital tools they’re accustomed to using to educate and prepare themselves for important health care needs. These tools will give them an opportunity to more confidently approach their own care in partnership with their trusted healthcare providers.
By joining forces with Quil, a company formed by Comcast and Independence Health Group, Penn Medicine hopes to deliver a “digital front door” for a better patient experience before and after surgeries and other medical procedures, and in managing long-term health conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Doctors can recommend the Quil Engage app to their patients, who will then receive notifications for their personalized guides, called “journeys,” leading them to instructional step-by-step videos, interactive quizzes and checklists, links to schedule necessary appointments, and FAQs, among other helpful tools and resources. The tools will be easily accessible through whichever device a patient chooses – whether that’s through their phone or computer, or even their television – and each notification is timed to meet the patient at the exact point in their health care journey when they will need the information.
“We are committed to offering new solutions to help our entire patient community at all points in the continuum of care. Our mission to provide outstanding patient care throughout the world requires a focus on health literacy, which we know is tightly linked to patients’ ability to manage their care and make the choices to keep them well,” said University of Pennsylvania Health System CEO Kevin B. Mahoney. "Importantly, this partnership widens the door to maintaining health at home, which is an increasing focus of our work to prevent and manage chronic conditions and ensure safe recoveries after hospitalizations.”
Quil began its partnership with Penn Medicine in 2018 while developing what would become Engage. In April 2019, a pilot program testing the platform with surgeons in the Penn Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery enrolled more than 900 total hip and knee replacement patients. Among them, the total length of time they stayed in the hospital after their procedures was 14 percent shorter than the goal, and the rate of discharge to home instead of physical rehabilitation facilities was 22 percent better than the department’s goal.
The system aims to provide education on procedures, like the joint replacements in the pilot program, life events such as pregnancy, and programs to support health goals like nutrition and weight loss. All of these paths are designed to guide patients through their health care experiences in partnership with family and friends.
"It’s a great privilege to continue to build our partnership with Penn Medicine and get digital tools in the hands of more patients and their caregivers,” said Quil CEO Carina Edwards. “We are excited to keep acting on our shared vision and are dedicated to bringing this work forward to serve our community. Offering a personal, empowering, and inspiring experience is at the heart of what we do."
An example of a typical patient “journey” in the platform for someone having knee replacement surgery includes pre-op messages from Quil weeks in advance that include videos on, for instance, what to expect during the hospital stay and guides for caring for the incision site, as well as pre- and post-op surveys. Immediately after surgery, to support bedside care, the patient receives instructional videos on getting in and out of bed and using a cane. Later, messages will be timed to reach the patient when they progressively reach different stages of physical rehabilitation, including videos showing exactly how to properly perform exercises such as heel slides or mini squats without aggravating the joint.
As a patient engages with a “journey” like this on Quil, their care team will be able to track their progress and receive notifications of benchmarks or setbacks to track patients’ progress and potentially intervene to stave off complications. For example, if they learn that a patient hasn’t watched a video on a certain exercise, the team can send a message to the patient ensuring that they’re taking part in the exercise, or to ascertain why they may not be.
Together, Penn Medicine and Quil look forward to improving patient outcomes like these across a wide swath of specialties. Ultimately, they hope to develop Engage to the point that it can become the standard of care for patient education across the entire health system – and drive adoption of the technology at other hospitals nationwide.
“An informed patient is a patient that already has a leg up on their health,” said C. William Hanson III, MD, chief medical information officer at Penn Medicine. “We believe that this system, using technology that meets patients where they are, will greatly enhance the ability to create more informed and engaged patients. At the same time, we expect this to give providers a greater insight to the people they care for, how they maintain their health, and where they could use a little more help to stay well.”
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 $8.9 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 $496 million awarded in the 2020 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 44,000 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 2020, Penn Medicine provided more than $563 million to benefit our community.