Penn Medicine


Innovation Accelerator Program



About the program

The Innovation Accelerator Program is designed to support faculty and staff from across Penn Medicine in their efforts to develop, test, and implement new approaches to improve health care delivery and patient outcomes.  

Winning teams receive:

  • Mentorship: Teams are matched with an Innovation Advisor and attend a series of workshops to learn high-impact methods for rapidly validating solutions
  • Funding:  Teams have access to up to $10,000 to test and develop their concepts in phase one
  • Recognition: At the end of each cycle, teams present to health system leadership for the opportunity to receive additional investment to take their ideas to scale

Learn more about our current class and past winners below.

Current class 2016 class | 2015 class | 2014 class | 2013 class

Featured news

Current class

The 2017 Innovation Accelerator class is co-sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, supporting their priority of enabling high-value care delivery models.  

Moving assessment of post-discharge needs to the home setting for older adult patients

Traditionally, older hospitalized adults are discharged when medically stable and once post-discharge care is organized. This approach causes patients to stay in the hospital beyond what is medically necessary waiting for services to be arranged. This delay compromises patient safety (infection, falls) and overall health status (cognition, function), and leads to increased hospital cost (longer length of stay, cost of caring for adverse events, and readmissions).  This project aims to test a transitional care model with strong prior evidence of improved outcomes that “flips” assessment of post-discharge needs to the home setting, moving patients to home sooner with care and support that keeps them safe upon earlier discharge.  Team lead: Rebecca Trotta, PhD, RN  Director of Nursing Research and Science

Telemedicine in primary care: Who will pay? Who will benefit? A project looking at IBC reimbursement vs. a self-pay concierge model

Studies have shown that telemedicine video visits can increase provider capacity, improve patient satisfaction and reduce costs.  However, the state of Pennsylvania does not have telemedicine parity reimbursement law.  This project aims to test a self-pay concierge service model for telemedicine video visits in partnership with Independence Blue Cross.  The goal is to prove that evaluation and management services can be completed through video visits for the right clinical use cases while enhancing access and establishing a solid business model. Team lead: Janice Hillman, MD, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Penn Medicine at Radnor

Enhancing symptom management for heart failure patients on hospice

Heart failure (HF) is projected to affect more than 8 million people from 2012 to 2030.  The costs associated with HF are approximately $30.7 billion annually, a large proportion of which is accumulated during end of life. The care of HF patients during end of life is suboptimal in comparison to other populations and there are high rates of hospitalization. Inadequate and lack of timely symptom management may result in ED visits and readmissions. Hospice care is established on the philosophy of promoting quality of life and aggressive symptom management. This project aims to explore the development of a novel hospice heart failure program to improve symptom management for patients, to facilitate teamwork among hospice and cardiology providers, and to increase more timely referrals to hospice.  Team lead: Esther Pak, MD, Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine 

Multidisciplinary cost-effective transitional care program for COPD patients

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. and hospitalizations for COPD exacerbations are associated with high morbidity and significant short-term mortality. Nationally, inpatient treatment for COPD exacerbations accounts for approximately $13 billion dollars in direct costs. Approximately 20% of patients admitted to the hospital with COPD are readmitted within 30 days, and it’s estimated that 10-50% of readmissions may be preventable.  This project aims to develop a multidisciplinary cost-effective transitional care program for COPD patients. The program will include evidence-based interventions targeting high-risk hospitalized patients who are discharged to home.  Team lead: Vivek Ahya, MD, Vice Chief, Clinical Affairs, Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Division; Associate Professor of Medicine 

2016 class 

The 2016 Innovation Accelerator class was co-sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, supporting their priority of enabling high-value care delivery models.  Learn more about the projects and watch video from Pitch Day below.

Live better: reducing readmissions in cirrhotic and post liver transplant patients

At Penn Medicine, 29% of cirrhosis patients and 32% of patients who have had a liver transplant are readmitted within the first 30 days. Together, these readmissions lead to more than $21 million in costs each year. This project aimed to reduce the rate of readmissions in cirrhotic and post liver transplant patients by leveraging telehealth monitoring. In 2015, the team piloted a wireless mobile device monitoring system using a tablet provided to patients to detect early signs and symptoms. The system reduced readmission rates from 28% to 5.2% in a group of 21 patients over the course of a year. During phase one the Accelerator, the team refined the intervention and expanded the pilot to all patients – running 9 pilots over 6 months. After introducing lower-cost technology, and a leaner staffing model that would enable the program to scale, the team saw a 43% reduction in 30-day readmissions and a 75% drop in potentially preventable readmissions. In addition, they reduced the cost of the program from $1019 to $50 per patient. At scale, these results are projected to lead a $6.8 million reduction in costs related to cirrhosis 30-day readmission costs, and a $2.2 million reduction in costs for 30-day liver transplant readmissions annually.

Team: Vandana Khungar, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology; Colleen Cook, BSN, RN, Clinical Director of Abdominal Transplant; Ann Huffenberger, DBA, RN, Director of Operations of the Penn E-lert Telemedicine Program 

Calorimeter: improving nutrition monitoring for critically ill patients                                                

Critically ill, brain-injured patients are especially vulnerable to malnutrition. Enteral nutrition (EN) is a liquid formulation of nutrients delivered to the GI tract through a tube. Early EN has been shown to decrease infections, shorten length of stay, promote faster cognitive recovery, and reduce mortality. However, these benefits are only realized if patients receive more than 80% of energy expenditure, which is not consistently observed in current practice. This team developed and tested a platform to automate the calculation of caloric and protein goals and intake to impact provider awareness of nutrition needs and patient outcomes. Introducing the "Calorimeter" alert and intervention system resulted in 57% of patients getting sufficient calories and 31% getting adequate protein intake each day.

Team: David Do, MD, Neurology Resident; John Chandler, MD, Neurocritical Care Physician; Joshua Vanderwerf, MD, Neurology Resident; Jennifer McKenna, CNSS, Clinical Dietitian Specialist; Bethany Young, RN, Clinical Nurse Specialist; Susan Kennedy, CNSS, Clinical Dietitian Specialist; Kai Holder, Research Assistant

IDTS: increasing the identification and monitoring of OPAT patients to improve outcomes   

Close laboratory monitoring and ambulatory follow-up care are essential for outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) patients. OPAT occurs in different settings, including the home, long-term-care facilities, and infusion centers. Due to the diversity of OPAT locations and the higher acuity of this population, readmission rates and complications are high. Publications show a 35 percent readmission rate for OPAT patients. This project aimed to explore ways to improve how we identify and monitor OPAT patients to enhance provider efficiency, improve care delivery and reduce readmissions. Leveraging homegrown technology at Penn Medicine, the team created a Care Coordination Command Center for OPAT patients. Electronic alerts enabled the team to identify 100% of patients discharged on IV antibiotics at or before the time of discharge, and integrating lab reports saved care teams and estimated 10-12 hours per week. The team also piloted a texting program to relay information about appointments and lab results and answer questions for patients. Of the patients who participated in the pilot, almost 90% attended follow-up appointments compared to 65% in the control group, and 0 patients were readmitted, compared to 17%. With IDTS monitoring, the team projects we can save over $2500 per patient, ultimately leading to $4.5 million saved at scale.

Team: Keith Hamilton, MD, Director of Antimicrobial Stewardship, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases; Naasha Talati,MD, MSCR, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases; Judith O’Donnell, MD, Section Chief and Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Outpatient Practice; Daniel Timko, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Antimicrobial Stewardship Program; Steven Morgan, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Antimicrobial Stewardship Program; Shawn Binkley, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist, Antimicrobial Stewardship Program; Amanda Binkley, PharmD, AAHIVP, Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacy; Christo Cimino, PharmD, BCPS, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Infectious Diseases

Mobility: reducing functional decline and loss of mobility for hospitalized patients

Functional decline and loss of mobility for hospitalized patients, particularly in older patients and patients requiring intensive care, leads to increases in length of stay, fall risk, and hospital-acquired conditions. This team piloted a systematic early mobility care pathway for moderate and high-risk populations that leveraged gamification to address barriers to mobility such as fear, lack of understanding of goals and difficulty with tracking progress. At the end of phase one, 88% of patients in the intervention group met goals for mobility and timely discharge compared to only 40% of the control group.

Team: Jennifer Nelson, RN, MSN, CCRN, Nurse Manager; Staci Pietrafesa, MSN, RN, NE-BC; Nurse Manager; Patty Baroni, MSN, RN, Clinical Director, Heart and Vascular Nursing; Paula Gabriel MSN, RN, CCRN CMC, Clinical Nurse Educator; Vanessa Ruangchotvit, RN; Kate James, RN; Francoise Eberhardt, RN; Gina Kumor RN; Sarita Lewis, Certified Nursing Assistant; Carl Reynolds MD, FACC, Cardiology Attending; Vibette Robles, RN, MSN, ONC, Clinical Nurse Educator; Anu Pullukattu, RN; Ann Christensen, RN; Joan Ivanoski, RN 

TargetPath: evidence-based guideline for management of hyperglycemic emergencies

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. There are approximately 200-300 admissions for DKA at HUP alone. This project aimed to effectively implement evidence-based practices across all entities within the health system for management of hyperglycemic emergencies. With 133 pathways and dozens more in the pipeline at Penn Medicine, the team set out to learn quickly about how to translate best practices into action at the bedside. To start, as patients came in, the team triaged them and texted new action-driven protocols to front-line providers in real-time. In addition, they piloted a targeted intervention unit to learn more about appropriate care settings and resources needed to properly triage DKA. The temporary unit was staffed with floor nurses, on-call ICU nurses, and a range of other resources the team thought might be required. In just the first case, the team identified unnecessary resources. For instance, they did not need the MICU nor an ICU-level nurse, which meant they could free up MICU beds for other sicker patients. As a result, patients now move to the floor from the ED directly, a change that was enabled by the insights gained from the testing space. Ultimately, admitting patients to the targeted intervention unit not only enabled the team to identify changes and enhancements to the pathway, but it also led to a decrease in length of stay – saving one day spent in the ICU per patient. The team continues to measure the impact of eliminating the MICU stay for all DKA patients.

Team: Ilona Lorincz, MD, Director of Quality, Endocrinology; Nikhil Mull, MD, Co-Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Evidence-based Practice; Cassie Bellamy, PharmD, Clinical Specialist Medical Intensive Care Unit; Angela Mills. MD, Vice Chair of Clinical Operations, Emergency Medicine; Clinton Orloski, MD, Chief Resident, Emergency Medicine; Stephanie Mallie, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, Clinical Nurse Specialist; Marybeth O’Malley, MSN RN ACNS-BC, Clinical Nurse Specialist; Joyce Finnegan, BSN, RN, CEN, Assistant Nurse Manager, Emergency Department Observation Unit 

Integrative therapies to reduce anxiety and pain

Although not recognized by the NIH as part of conventional medicine, "integrative therapies" like aromatherapy, guided imagery, yoga, and acupuncture are known to ease anxiety and pain among palliative care patients. In that same spirit, this team created a "delight" product that can be given to patients and their loved ones to lessen stress at a profoundly sad time. The "Penn Delight" box contains personal aroma dispensers, lavender lotion, and earbuds for listening to guided imagery -- a form of meditation driven by audio recordings of soothing music and tranquil narrative.

Team: Susan Kristiniak, DHA, MSN, RN, AHN-BC, NEA-BC, IAC, Associate Director of UPHS Palliative Care

Silent checklist to improve ICU care

ICUs are charged with caring for the sickest patients in a hospital and do so with an enormously complicated array of technologies, pharmaceuticals, and data streams. They are also somewhat chaotic work environments because of the steady cacophony of audible alarms from monitors and IV pumps that can distract clinicians, causing routine ICU tasks to be delayed or missed. This team created a centralized digital system that screens all unit data round-the-clock and sends text messages to clinicians alerting them to actions that might have otherwise been delayed or missed.

Team: Barry Fuchs, MD, Medical Director, ICU and Respiratory Care Services

Platform for management and dissemination of basic clinical trials

For specialists in private practice as well as hospital departments, matching patients to appropriate clinical trials is a complicated process made even more so by the lack of a comprehensive central system for collecting and tracking the details of a medical center's ongoing trials. After repeatedly hearing colleagues note that 'I work here and I don't even know what clinical trials are available,' oncology Fellow Nathan Handley created the prototype, a point-of-care tool for keeping constantly updated track of oncology-related clinical trials at Penn.

Team: Nathan Handley, MD, Fellow, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology; MBA candidate

Piloting a call line for cardiology consult requests

A frustration for ED providers is the daily and often arduous task of trying to locate and communicate with one or more specialist consultants whose input is required before a given patient can be discharged. The process can take hours and occurs several times a day, according to this team of three cardiology fellows. To solve this, they've created a chatbot system that can spider across the incompatible tangle of internal communications and scheduling systems to locate that specialist and route a text message back to the ED with a direct phone number.

Team: Srinath Adusumalli, MD; Paul Fiorilli, MD; and Sameed Khatana, MD, Fellows, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine

2015 class

Eight teams were selected from a pool of more than 85 applicants to participate in the program in 2015.  Learn more about the projects and watch video from Pitch Day below.

HiRPM, medication lab monitoring

The current method for tracking labs via spreadsheets, paper logs, and manual lists within EPIC is extremely time consuming and subject to human error.  This project seeks to develop and test an automated lab monitoring system for patients on high-risk medications to streamline care coordination, increase the number of labs completed on time to avoid patient safety events and improve patient outcomes.

Team: Carmela Vittorio, MD, Vice Chair of Operations, Dermatology; Matthew Zarkos, IT Manager, Dermatology; Ilya Sharkansky, Senior Web Developer

Our Directives, increasing completion of and compliance with advance directives

Many patients – even those with multiple serious illnesses – have not completed advance directives.  The failure to know and follow patients’ end of life preferences leads to both moral distress among family members, inappropriate lengths of stay and utilization of hospital resources, and wasted expenditures that don’t serve patient interests.  This project seeks to dramatically increase the number of Penn Medicine patients with completed advance directives with an online platform optimized for usability and rapid testing of novel strategies to help patients confidently answer the questions required for completion.

Team: Susan Kristiniak, DHA, MSN, Associate Director of Palliative Care; Scott Halpern, MD PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine; Regina Miller, MSS, LCSW, HUP Social Work Team Leader; Cora Young, MSW, LSW, Manager of Case Management, Good Shepherd Penn Partners; Monique Neault, MSN, CRNP Inpatient Palliative Care Coordinator; Lisa Garcia, BSN, RN-BC, MSN(c), ACE Unit Manager; Rebecca Trotta, PhD, RN  Director of Nursing Research and Science

Eyes On-Site, retinal imaging by Scheie Eye

Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in adults.  While such vision loss can be avoided by early diagnosis, diabetic patients receive eye examinations at a far lower rate than is necessary to prevent complications, with the majority missing their exam each year.  This project seeks to increase the rate of diabetic patients receiving necessary preventative eye services by offering an alternative to “in person” examinations.  Screenings can be accomplished with minimal impact on specialists’ time while driving increased appropriate volume to specialists for necessary care and achieving Group Practice Reporting Option (GPRO) goals.

Team: Thomasine Gorry, MD, MGA, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Co-Chair of CPUP Clinical Operations: Quality Domain; Joan O'Brien, MD, Chair of Ophthalmology; Sheara Hollin, COO, Scheie Eye Institute; Tomas Aleman, MD, Retina Service; Eydie Miller, MD, Director of Glaucoma Service, Scheie Eye Institute; Aron Berman, MBA, Director of Operations, Scheie Eye Institute; Gideon Whitehead, BM; Michael Kilzi, Esq.

ERAP, engaged recovery at Penn Medicine

Patient compliance with perioperative instructions supports improved outcomes and reduces the risk of complications and/or readmission.  There are long lists of instructions and protocols with strong evidence behind them – from diet and medication adherence to spirometer use, cleaning to avoid SSIs and ambulation – that are hard to understand, remember and follow in our current approach.  This project seeks to develop and test a platform to enable both patients and providers to follow the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol to decrease perioperative complications, readmission rates, and length of stay while improving the patient experience.

Team: Stephanie Diem, BS, RN-BC, CAHIMS, Clinical Data Analyst; John Regan, MSN, RN, Manager, Clinical Data and Quality Systems; Allen Bar, MD, Clinical Professor, Hannah Lacko, Improvement Advisor; Aida Schumacher, Clinical Nurse Educator

Pre-Op Plus, reimagining the preoperative anesthesia evaluation process

There are many delays, cancellations and potentially catastrophic patient events that can be eliminated by identifying high-risk patients at the time of surgical scheduling, allowing for a multidisciplinary discussion of a perioperative care plan.  This project seeks to reduce surgical cancellations and delays while optimizing patient outcomes and experience by increasing communication between Anesthesia and surgical practices.

Team: Marc Royo, MD, Clinical Instructor, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Elizabeth Valentine, MD, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Renyu Liu, MD, MS, PhD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Onyi Onuoha, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Eric Greenblatt, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Kathryn Hall, MD, PGY-4 resident in Anesthesiology; Ronnie Zeidan, MD, PGY-3 resident in Anesthesiology; Joseph Savino, MD, Vice-Chair, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Lee Fleisher, MD, Chair, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care 

The BRIDGE Project: linking hospitalized patients to follow-up appointments 

Effective transitions of care for patients being discharged from the hospital are critical.  However, follow-up appointments are currently scheduled via individual phone calls between the patient’s inpatient team and each outpatient clinic without input from the patient.  This approach has resulted in only 49% of follow-up appointment being kept as scheduled at HUP. High no-show rates impact our clinics’ efficiency and revenue while the lack of follow up increases the risk of re-hospitalizations and exacerbations of chronic conditions for patients. This project seeks to test new patient scheduling and engagement strategies to reduce no-shows and cancellations, streamline care coordination, and improve the patient experience.

Team: Rahul Banerjee, MD, Resident Physician, Department of Internal Medicine; Alex Suarez, Perelman School of Medicine; Scott Schlegel, MBA, Associate Vice President, Electronic Health Record Integration, UPHS; Michael McFall, Admission and Discharge Coordinator, HUP; Jennifer Myers, MD, Director of Quality and Safety Education, Perelman School of Medicine

PEACE, the pregnancy early access center

First-trimester miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy.  Women often don’t know where to turn when they suspect a problem, resulting in unnecessary emergency room utilization. This project seeks to test a full-service, urgent-care care model for women with signs of miscarriage to reduce cost, free up OR capacity, reduce blood transfusions and improve the patient experience. 

Team: Courtney Schreiber, MD, MPH, Program Director for the Penn Family Planning and Pregnancy Loss Center, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Sarita Sonalkar, MD; Jennifer Moore-Conrow, Administrative Director; Shayna Nagel, RN; Janet Williams, Clinical Care Coordinator; Justine Lai, MBA Candidate 2016; Sarah Rottenberg, Associate Director, Integrated Product Design, Penn

Superutilization Management

A relatively small group of “superutilizers” account for a disproportionate amount of health care expenditures in practices nationwide.  This project seeks to develop and test methods to proactively identify superutilizer patients for new interventions to lower cost by reducing unnecessary utilization of outpatient, inpatient and emergency room care and improve patient outcomes.

Team: Anna Doubeni, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine and Community Health; Meg Baylson, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, Residency Director; Peter Cronholm, MD, MSCE, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, Residency Associate Director, Director of Community Medicine Programs; Tanya Dougherty, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist; Steven Honeywell, Jr., Quality Improvement Research Analyst; Heather Klusaritz, PhD, Instructor Family Medicine and Community Health; Sam Martin, Quality Improvement Research Assistant 

2014 class

Telegenetics, increasing access to genetic counseling for remote cancer patients

Team: Angela R. Bradbury, MD

TIPS-Connect, testing connected health solutions for depression in prenatal and postpartum care

Team: Ian Bennett, MD, PhD; Janet Rocchio, Administrative Director, Helen O. Dickens Center for Women; Regina Howard, Practice Manager, Helen O. Dickens Center for Women; Rebecca Henderson, Research Assistant, Family Medicine and Community Health; The SPIRIT Group; Marian Moseley, MSS, MLSP, Social Worker; Jabina Coleman, MSW, CLC, Social Worker; C. Neill Epperson, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Liis Hantsoo, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, Becky Marlow, RN, BSN, MBA, Administrative Director, Dickens Center for Women

Pennsieve, creating an automated, cloud-based system for interpreting long-term electroencephalogram data  

Team: Brian Litt, MD; Joost Wagenaar, PhD; Zachary Ives, PhD; Paulomi Kadakia, MD

2013 class

IMPaCT, establishing a sustainable and exportable business model for an evidence-based CHW model for care

Team: Shreya Kangovi, MD, MS; Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH; Joan Doyle, RN, MSN, MBA; David Grande, MD, MPA; Casey Chanton, MSW; Judith Long, MD; Mary White, CHW; Sharon McCollum, CHW

ARRTE, monitoring follow-up on radiologic findings using an informatics application

Team: Hanna Zafar, MD, MHSTessa Cook, MD, PhD; Seetharam Chadalavada, MD; Darco Lalevic; Caroline Sloan; Curtis Langlotz, MD, PhDMitchell Schnall, MD, PhD

Teledermatologyincreasing access to improve patient outcomes

Team: Jules Lipoff, MDCarrie Kovarick, MD; Junko Takeshita, MD, PhD; Ryan Littman-Quinn, Jake Moore, Priyank Sharma

Limiting Antimicrobial Resistance, generating real-time antibiograms

Team: Keith Hamilton, MD; Kevin Haynes, PharmD, MSCE; Jimish Mehta, PharmD

Care Management for VAD patientsexploring how self-testing can improve patient outcomes

Team: Lynn Washington, RN; Tricia Shustock, BSN, RN; HUP Silverstein 10 Nursing Team, Christyna Zalewski, BSN, RN; UPHS VAD Coordinator Team

The Innovation Accelerator Program would not be possible without the support of our many partners.  Each year, colleagues from departments across the University of Pennsylvania Health System provide access and expert advice critical to the success of our teams.  We would especially like to acknowledge our partners in the Information Services Department, the Data Science team, and the CMIO office for helping us to accomplish our mission to enable a culture of innovation at Penn Medicine. 


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Careers and Internships

Click here to learn about opportunities to join our team.