Penn Medicine


Innovation Accelerator Program

We are thrilled to announce that we received more than 90 applications for this year’s Innovation Accelerator Program reflecting a broad range of topics from individuals across the health system.  Over the next six months, the five teams selected to participate will learn innovative methods for refining and rapidly validating solutions and work closely with mentors from the Acceleration Lab to test and develop their concepts.  In April, the program will culminate with a pitch event, at which teams will present their progress for the opportunity to receive additional investment to take their ideas to scale.  

2018 Accelerator Class

The 2018 Innovation Accelerator class is co-sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, supporting their priority of enabling high-value care delivery models.  

S.T.A.R.T. Protocol (Solution To Addictions & Recovery Treatment): Bridging from Crisis to Recovery at Penn: Emergency Department (ED) visits for opioid use disorders (OUD) provide a critical opportunity to link patients to medications for addiction treatment (MAT).  The initiation of MAT in the ED more than doubles successful treatment at 30 days compared to a discharge referral alone. Last year, there were approximately 1,200 encounters for OUD in the EDs at HUP and PPMC, 20% of which were overdoses. However, only a small number of ED patients per month were given MAT, and only 25 patients are currently receiving outpatient MAT in the primary care setting, despite appointment availability. This project seeks to help ED patients receive appropriate treatment for OUD by implementing timely initiation of MAT at ED presentation and introducing a “concierge model” to link patients from the ED to outpatient care.
Team lead:
Julie Dees, MA, LPC
Director of Behavioral Health Services, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center

A new program for proactively identifying, engaging, and transitioning hospitalized patients with psychiatric comorbidities: Psychiatric disorders are comorbid with other medical conditions in 25-40% of general medical inpatients.  Such disorders adversely affect patient outcomes and increase acute care utilization and total medical spend. Data from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) demonstrates that the presence of a psychiatric comorbidity increases length of stay by 22%, 30-day readmissions by 30%, and ED visits by 97%.  This project aims to leverage, integrate, and enhance current technology, pathways, and initiatives to improve transitions of care for inpatients with comorbid psychiatric conditions to improve outcomes and enhance patient and provider safety and satisfaction.
Team leads:
Arun Gopal, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine; Consultation and Liaison Psychiatry Service, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Medical Director for Consultation and Liaison, Department of Psychiatry
Cecilia Livesey, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine; Medical Director of Strategy and Integration, Department of Psychiatry 

Penn Acute Care at Home (PATCH): Despite the presence of high-quality primary care options, patients from West Philadelphia visited Penn Medicine EDs more than 13,000 times last year, resulting in over 7,000 inpatient admissions.  More than 1,200 of these patients visited the ED at least three times.  The demand for hospital care exceeds supply and each year, and more and more patients leave the ED before receiving treatment. Regardless of hospital expansion, Penn Medicine will increasingly bear the cost of acute care through participation in value-based payment programs.  PATCH seeks to deploy mobile, integrated health care teams to rapidly respond to acute complaints and provide urgent care for Penn Primary Care patients at home.
Team lead:
Austin Kilaru, MD
Fellow, National Clinician Scholars Program; Attending Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center

HealingAtHome: At HUP, the average postpartum length of stay is three days, one day longer than the national average. Studies show that it is clinically safe to discharge healthy mothers and newborns earlier with no differences in readmission rates. And, a recent survey showed that 45% of women who responded wished that they could have been discharged earlier to recover at home.  One important cause of delay is the absence of a system to facilitate communication between the obstetric and pediatric teams. This project seeks to create a multi-staged solution that promotes the safe and timely discharge of healthy mothers and babies while also supporting safe healing at home. The team hypothesizes that their solution will lead to reduced length of stay, significant hospital savings, and improved patient satisfaction.
Team lead:
Jessica Gaulton, MD
Neonatology Fellow, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia & HUP; Clinical Innovation Fellow, Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health

Using Informatics to Connect Patients with Physicians and Improve Screening for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases recommends screening patients at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) every six months with ultrasound. However, less than 40% of patients are typically screened according to guidelines.  As with other cancers, HCC survival rates are heavily dependent on early detection. Early diagnosis and treatment can increase 5-year survival to 60-70%.  This project seeks to leverage infrastructure from the Automated Radiology Recommendation Tracking Engine (ARRTE) to design a system for hepatologists at Penn Medicine to identify patients at risk for HCC, pinpoint their last screening date and send alerts when patients are due for or miss a screening. 
Team lead:
Tessa S. Cook, MD, PhD
Director, 3-D and Advanced Imaging Laboratory; Director, Center for Translational Informatics; Assistant Professor of Radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania



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.  Working closely with mentors from the Center, teams move through three phases of work with the ultimate goal of bringing successful innovations to scale.

Since the inception of the program, 30 projects tackling some of health care’s toughest challenges have been funded.  Learn more about the structure of the program, and the support teams receive below.


Phase one: It might work. 

In phase one, teams work to better understand the problem, rapidly test potential solutions, and define how to measure success.  At the end of phase one, teams present to health system leadership for the opportunity to receive additional investment to take their ideas to scale.  

Duration: Six months (November to April)


  • Training: Teams attend a series of workshops to learn high-impact methods for rapidly validating solutions
  • Mentorship: An Innovation Advisor from the Center's Acceleration Lab dedicates 40% of their time to the project
  • Funding:  Teams have access to up to $10,000 to test and develop their concepts
  • Recognition and additional support: At the end of phase one, teams present their work to health system leadership for the opportunity to receive additional investment

Success criteria

  • Define a meaningful problem space with baseline data.
  • Develop an understanding of key problem drivers.
  • Engage a working team to develop and test interventions.
  • Set measurable targets for your work.
  • Run a series of small experiments based on clear hypotheses
  • Generate early evidence that you can move the needle.
  • Identify and engage operational stakeholders who are willing to support your intervention once you have demonstrated impact.

Phase two: It does work. 

In phase two, teams move from conducting small experiments to testing on a larger scale. Teams are challenged to demonstrate sustained impact and secure the resources and stakeholder support necessary to move their solution towards implementation. 

Duration: One year (June-May)


  • Training: Teams attend a series of workshops to learn approaches and skills for bringing innovations to scale.  
  • Mentorship: Innovation Advisors continue to dedicate time to the project.  Allocation varies by project.
  • Funding:  Teams have access to up to $50,000 to move work forward. 

Success criteria

  • Test your intervention at a level of scale that provides the evidence needed for operational stakeholders to invest in further scaling and sustaining your solution.
  • Define and articulate a business model to support your solution at scale.  This includes demonstrating a clear return on investment for the health system, payers, and additional stakeholders with the resources to support your intervention.

Phase three: How we work.

Leveraging knowledge and momentum from previous phases, teams work with stakeholders to secure the permanent infrastructure necessary for their intervention.  Teams “graduate” when they achieve sustainable implementation at scale for their solution. 

Duration: Varies by project


  • Gap resources as needed (funding, staff support, leadership advising).

Success criteria

  • Develop and execute a strategy to operationalize your intervention at scale with resources independent of the Center.
  • Identify clear metrics and infrastructure for accountability and continuous improvement.

2017 class

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

Supporting Older Adults at Risk (SOAR)

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 and overall health status and leads to increased hospital cost. The SOAR 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

Penn Medicine Virtual Care

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. The Penn Medicine Virtual Care 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, PENNCare Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Penn Medicine at Radnor 

Advanced Heart Care at Home

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 as patients approach the 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 results in emergency department (ED) visits and readmissions. The Advanced Heart Care at Home team is developing a heart failure program to improve symptom management for advanced heart failure patients, facilitate teamwork among palliative care and cardiology providers, and increase more timely referrals to hospice.

Team leads: Nina O'Connor, MD, Chief of Hospice and Palliative Care, Penn Medicine and Esther Pak, MD, Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine


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

Watch video from Pitch Day.

  • Live Better, reducing readmissions in cirrhotic and post liver transplant patients
  • Calorimeter, improving nutrition monitoring for critically ill patients                                                
  • IDTS, increasing the identification and monitoring of OPAT patients
  • The Mobility Project, reducing functional decline and loss of mobility for hospitalized patients
  • TargetPath, implementing an evidence-based guideline for management of hyperglycemic emergencies
  • Penn Medicine Experience, integrative therapies to reduce anxiety and pain
  • ICU Care Coordination Platform, a silent checklist to improve ICU care
  • Penn Trials, a platform for the management and dissemination of basic clinical trials
  • Card Consults, piloting a call line for cardiology consult requests

2015 class

Watch video from Pitch Day.

  • HiRPM, enhanced lab monitoring for high-risk patients
  • Our Care Wishes, an online platform to facilitate advance care planning
  • Eyes On-Site, Transforming retinal screening for diabetic patients 
  • ERAP, engaged recovery at Penn Medicine
  • Pre-Op Plus, reimagining the preoperative anesthesia evaluation process
  • The BRIDGE Project, increasing show rates at post-discharge follow-up appointments
  • PEACE, a new model for pregnancy loss
  • Superutilization Management, shifting health care utilization for patients with complex needs

2014 class

  • Telegenetics, increasing access to genetic counseling for remote cancer patients
  • TIPS-Connecttesting connected health solutions for depression in prenatal and postpartum care
  • Heart Safe Motherhood, engaging patients in text-based remote monitoring
  • Pennsieve, an automated, cloud-based system for interpreting long-term electroencephalogram data

2013 class

  • IMPaCT, establishing a sustainable and exportable business model for an evidence-based CHW model for care
  • ARRTE, monitoring follow-up on radiologic findings using an informatics application
  • Teledermatologyincreasing access to improve patient outcomes
  • Teqqa, generating real-time antibiograms to limit antimicrobial resistance
  • Care Management for VAD patientsexploring how self-testing can improve patient outcomes

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