Penn Medicine

October 2020

Month in Review October 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

Exploring digital methods to capture self-reported on-shift sentiment amongst academic emergency medical physicians

In a piece for the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Anish Agarwal, Lauren Hahn, Roy Rosin, and Raina Merchant explore digital methods to capture self-reported on-shift sentiment amongst emergency medical physicians. This novel study demonstrates the feasibility of using a simple, digital interface to engage individuals during clinical care and the ability of low-touch methods to identify drivers of mood. It also sheds light on trends in sentiment over time and care area. This study is part of a larger body of research underway at the Center for Digital Health that seeks to identify novel ways to capture sentiment shifts among providers in real-time so that issues can be quickly addressed to improve well-being and reduce burnout.

Forcing a choice increased statin prescribing for heart disease patients

Srinath Adusumalli, Charles RareshideChris Snider, David Asch, and Mitesh Patel led a cluster randomized trial with 82 cardiologists and more than 11,000 patients to test the effects of active choice nudges in the electronic health record to increase statin prescribing. Active choice prompts led to a four percentage point increase in prescribing the right dose of statins for patients at the highest risk – those who already had atherosclerotic heart disease. However, there were no differences observed in prescription rates observed when it came to patients judged to be at risk for heart disease, no matter what arm of the study patients were in.

An ecosystem of innovation fosters tech-based solutions to COVID-19 challenges

At the onset of the pandemic, we launched COVID Watch, a platform that enables patients who are confirmed or likely to have COVID-19 but not sick enough to need hospitalization to be monitored at home. Penn Medicine clinicians can enroll patients in the program directly from the electronic medical record. From there, twice-daily automated text messages are sent to check-in on patients, with protocols for escalation to telemedicine or hands-on care when necessary. Read the article below to learn how Way to Health's innovative infrastructure enabled us to get COVID Watch up and running within a matter of days.

Leveraging machine learning-based nudges to improve cancer care

For patients with cancer, serious illness conversations (SICs) - structured conversations about prognosis, goals, and wishes - can reduce depression and anxiety, improve quality of life, and decrease unnecessary acute care utilization. In a randomized clinical trial, an intervention that integrated health technology with behavioral nudges led to an almost fourfold increase in SICs among high-risk cancer patients.


Raina Merchant elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Raina Merchant was named one of the 100 new members of the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the field of health care and medicine. As director of the Center for Digital Health, Raina is recognized for developing, deploying, evaluating, and refining novel tools and techniques to promote individual and population health. 


Advanced fellowship in health services research

Apply for a two-year fellowship in health services research with the Nudge Unit and the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) at the VA. Use the link below to access more information about the program and application requirements. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2020.

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