Penn Medicine

June 2020

Month in Review June 2020

Each month, we round up news stories and publications about work happening at the Acceleration Lab, Center for Digital Health, Nudge Unit, and Way to Health. Want to stay in the know? Subscribe to have the Month in Review sent directly to your inbox.

Top Stories

Five lessons from Penn Medicine’s crisis response

Investment in innovation enabled Penn Medicine to respond quickly and effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leveraging an iterative process, we worked with clinical and operational teams from across the health system to design, validate, and scale much-needed services with urgency - decreasing time to deployment from months to days or hours. In Harvard Business Review, Katherine Choi, Sri Adusumalli, Kathleen Lee, Roy Rosin, and David Asch share lessons from Penn Medicine's crisis response.

Penn Medicine rolls out COBALT, a free mental health platform for employees

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Penn Medicine and UnitedHealth Group launched COBALT - a HIPAA-compliant digital platform that offers Penn Medicine employees immediate access to free mental health support. COBALT connects users to live virtual sessions with resilience coaches, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists. Users also gain access to a curated library of mental health and wellness content. Within 30 days of rolling out the platform, COBALT facilitated about 8,000 sessions from about 5,000 individuals. Cecilia Livesey and co-lead Kelley Kugler talk about the platform's initial success and their plans for expansion in a Philly article.

Leveraging behavioral economics in the fight against COVID-19

Contact tracing is not just about making phone calls. It is a systematic approach for tracking a new case’s infection source and finding others who might have been exposed to that case during the infectious period. In NEJM Catalyst, members of our team propose ways in which insights from behavioral economics can be leveraged to optimize contract tracing, thereby breaking chains of transmission. And, in USA TODAY, Mitesh Patel, Katherine Milkman, and Angela Duckworth discuss how scientifically-tested ways to encourage people to make healthier decisions can be implemented to increase vaccination rates when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. The trio also makes a case for pharmacies, health insurers, and health systems to collaborate with behavioral scientists to test the efficacy of incentives such as cash rewards and psychologically wise reminders delivered by text, email, snail-mail, and phone.

Telehealth in the time of COVID-19

It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed telehealth to the forefront. Learn more about some of the creative solutions our team has launched to maximize patient safety by reducing transmission risk and read commentary on considerations health systems should keep top of mind as they wade into the new normal.

Five things we learned from Roy Rosin

In a conversation with The Philadelphia Citizen, Roy Rosin talked about innovation, problem-solving, and the many interventions the CHCI team has launched in response to COVID-19.


Raina Merchant named SAEM award winner

Raina Merchant was named one of SAEM’s Mid-Career Investigator Award winners.  Each year, SAEM presents awards in recognition of excellence in the field, for contributions improving the health of society, and for academic achievements.

David Asch wins top AcademyHealth award

David Asch received the Distinguished Career Award from AcademyHealth. The Distinguished Career Award is AcademyHealth's highest career award, recognizing leaders who have made significant and lasting contributions to the field of health services research.

Additional Coverage

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