PHILADELPHIA— For the second year in a row, a trio of projects from the Center for Health Care Innovation were chosen to receive Clinical Care Innovation Grants from Independence Blue Cross. Each project will receive up to $200,000 toward expanding its work.
“Independence Blue Cross looks for novel interventions with strong early evidence and high potential to improve value-based care, so winning three awards is meaningful validation of Penn innovation programs,” said Roy Rosin, chief innovation officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and interim executive director of the Center for Health Care Innovation. “Our teams have shown they can make a difference in areas of care and patient populations that could benefit most from change, and with Independence’s partnership, we can advance and scale this work.”
This year, the three Penn Medicine projects receiving grants are:
- Healing at Home – A system that uses an artificial intelligence-guided chatbot to provide 24/7 assistance to new mothers with questions about infant care or their own needs during the “fourth trimester” after delivery. The project seeks to expand access to evidence-based guidance, including for mental health support, and evaluate measurable benefits. It’s led by Kirstin Leitner, MD, an assistant professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology; Lori Christ, MD, an assistant professor of Pediatrics; Laura Scalise, MSN, RN, a nurse manager; and Emily Seltzer, a senior innovation manager at the Center for Digital Health.
- Pregnancy Early Access Center (PEACE) – A model for providing care for early pregnancy, including for miscarriages, which take place in one in every five pregnancies. A special focus is placed on equitable follow-up care for those who experience miscarriage, especially to offer an alternative for those who seek care at emergency departments, which many patients do. Currently, 95 percent of these patients do not receive any continuing care following their initial urgent miscarriage visit. This project is led by Courtney Schreiber, MD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chief of Family Planning.
- Increasing access to buprenorphine and other substance use treatment services for people of color – A team formed to decrease barriers to rapid access to buprenorphine (a medication that soothes cravings for opioids in the brain) forcommunities in Philadelphia made up of a majority of people of color, building on earlier pilots that successfully connected more people to appropriate care. This includes a telemedicine-based outreach and navigation service that guides people through various aspects of substance use treatment. This effort is led by Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, a professor of Emergency Medicine and director of the Penn Medicine Center for Addiction Medicine and Policy.
“The funded projects this year also address areas in which some of our most vulnerable patients may see the greatest benefits,” said Elissa Klinger, director of health equity for Penn Medicine’s Center for Digital Health. “For example, black women in Philadelphia experience higher rates of severe pregnancy related health problems, particularly in the postpartum period, so programs like Healing at Home can enhance critical postpartum support that may ultimately help drive down rates of maternal morbidity. PEACE provides urgent and timely pregnancy care while promoting health equity. And increasing access to buprenorphine and other substance use treatment services targets the burdens of substance use and overdose striking in communities of color in Philadelphia.”
Last year, the three Penn Medicine projects chosen for these grants focused on engaging patients in remote cardiac rehabilitation, helping patients with at-home chemotherapy regimens through a text messaging “chatbot” (Penny), and improving image-based cancer screenings (LiveAware).
Since then, the cardiac rehabilitation project began a study comparing telemedicine-based cardiac rehabilitation to a traditional model, along with creating a dashboard to identify eligible patients across Penn Medicine for potential enrollment. Penny, the at-home chemotherapy chatbot program, expanded to help more new patients with gastrointestinal cancers. And LiveAware started its expansion to primary care services across Penn Medicine so that patients with hepatocellular carincoma – the most common type of liver cancer – receive improved care through earlier identification and higher rates of follow up.
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.