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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 HealthRead the latest issue of our Month in Review newsletter and subscribe to have it sent directly to your inbox.

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Messaging can have a huge impact on vaccination rates

The Behavior Change for Good Initiative and the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit unveiled findings from two of the largest-ever research studies aimed at increasing vaccine adoption.

Conducted with patients from Walmart Pharmacy, Penn Medicine, and Geisinger Health, the studies revealed that text messages that reminded individuals a flu shot was “waiting” or “reserved” for them proved most effective - boosting vaccination rates by up to eleven percent.

Penn Today
Ensuring equitable access at community vaccination sites

On February 13, Penn Medicine partnered with Mercy Catholic Medical Center and faith leaders in West Philadelphia to administer more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to high-priority groups in the community.

In an interview with WHYY, Kathleen Lee explains the low-tech and no-tech approaches the team employed to ensure equitable access to the clinic.

WHYY News
Secure funding and support for your innovative project

Have an idea to transform health care? Need help getting it off the ground? We are currently accepting applications for our Innovation Accelerator and Health-Tech Design and Development programs.

Visit the Acceleration Lab website to learn more about the support we offer teams and start your application today.

Acceleration Lab
Nudge Unit Health Symposium call for abstracts

The 2021 Nudges in Health Care Symposium will be held virtually on May 20, 2021. In preparation for the event, we have opened a call for abstracts. We are seeking submissions from any industry that focus on implementing nudges to improve health care.

Abstracts that have results available to present at the time of the Symposium will be prioritized. The deadline to submit an abstract for consideration is March 1. Submissions selected for presentation will be notified in mid-March.

The Nudge Unit
Can we nudge COVID-19 vaccination rates higher?

In a viewpoint for Nature, Mitesh Patel shares suggestions for nudges that public health agencies can incorporate into COVID-19 vaccine-rollout to encourage uptake.

Examples include framing vaccination as the default, providing peer-comparisons, and making choices active and timebound. Patel says testing approaches like these will enable institutions to identify successful strategies and suss out efforts that perform poorly so that processes can be optimized.

Nature
Leveraging innovation methods to reduce avoidable ED visits

In Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation, members of our team describe a 3-year journey to apply innovation principles to understand drivers of avoidable emergency department use, develop a telemedicine-based solution, and operationalize the service.

The final product, Penn Medicine OnDemand, is now available to over 60,000 Penn Medicine employees and their family members.

Healthcare
You're more likely to die of COVID if your hospital is crowded and stressed

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, COVID-19 mortality in hospitals seems to be lower when the prevalence of COVID-19 in the surrounding community is lower.

David Asch and Rachel Werner discuss the study's findings and call for citizens to do their part to keep case rates down in this opinion piece for USA Today.

USA TODAY
Default opt-out of cardiac rehabilitation increases referrals

Cardiac rehabilitation can be life-saving but is historically underused across the country. Researchers from the Nudge Unit have devised a way to fix that.

In a new study, the team found that making doctors opt-out from prescribing cardiac rehabilitation instead of opting in increased referrals by roughly 70 percent.

Penn Medicine
Public health messaging in an era of social media

Raina Merchant, Eugenia South, and Nicole Lurie share four strategies to advance public health messaging amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The experts advise deploying countermeasures for misinformation, surveillance of digital data to inform messaging, partnering with trusted messengers, and promoting equity through messaging.

JAMA
Study uncovers inequity in access to telemedicine

A study published in JAMA Network Open found that older people, minorities, non-English speakers, and those with lower incomes face inequities in accessing telemedicine for primary care and specialty ambulatory care during COVID-19.

The authors urge that as health systems develop and refine their telemedicine practice, they prioritize those who have been historically marginalized.

JAMA Network Open
Monitoring patients leads to a fourfold decline in rehospitalizations
Enrolling hip and knee replacement patients in HomeConnect+, an automated hovering program that remotely monitored their recovery, led to a fourfold decline in rehospitalizations.
 
The program used wearable step counters and conversational text messaging powered by Way to Health to keep tabs on patients after surgery. Just three percent of HomeConnect+ patients returned to the hospital after surgery, compared to 12 percent of patients not enrolled in the program. 
Penn Medicine
January 2021 Month in Review

Each month, we round up news stories and publications about work happening across CHCI. Read the latest issue and subscribe to have the Month in Review sent directly to your inbox.

CHCI
Sneak preview of what's in store for the Nudge Unit in 2021

It's a new year, and the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit has a lot in store for 2021.

In a recent blog post, Mitesh Patel previewed studies the team will be releasing results from soon, including the largest-ever communication research study aimed at increasing flu vaccinations. The team hopes the results of the study will be well-timed to assist with encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations.

Mitesh Patel Blog
How health systems can build a culture of anti-racism

In Penn Today, Eugenia South, Paris Butler, and Raina Merchant discuss how health systems can use their power, might, and resources to foster racial equality. 

Penn Today
Digital health tools offer new opportunities for personalized care

Digital health interventions often fail to create sustained behavior change for patients. A key reason for this is that many programs offer a one-size-fits-all approach to diverse populations with different motivations and values.

In Harvard Business Review, Mitesh Patel and Shirley Chen explain how behavioral phenotyping could be applied to make digital health solutions more personalized and effective. The piece references several Nudge Unit studies as examples.

Harvard Business Review
PCORI approves $23 million for seven COVID-19 research studies

Funding has been awarded from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to evaluate the use of COVID Watch, focusing on whether it reduces disparities in care among Black and Latino patients. The study will assess COVID Watch with and without the use of fingertip pulse oximetry. 

Penn Medicine
Mining social media to make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic

Social media platforms can be leveraged to identify trends across the country. With this in mind, researchers from the Center for Digital Health have launched a tool to track self-reported COVID-19 symptoms and real-time sentiment trends on Twitter.

The dashboard, created in partnership with the World Well-Being Project, pulls between four and five million coronavirus-related tweets a day using the Twitter API. Users can view confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita, top symptom mentions, changes in language about stress, anxiety, and overall sentiment of the pandemic, and more. 

Twitter Developer
Increased demand for advanced care planning

It is estimated that one in five adults who develops COVID-19 symptoms will end up in a hospital, and one in 20 may experience respiratory failure requiring a mechanical ventilator.

While many Americans put off or forgo filing advanced directives altogether, COVID-19 has pushed the need for these essential documents to the forefront. In a study published in JAMA Network Open, our team members discuss how directive completion on Penn Medicine's homegrown platform, Our Care Wishes, has increased fivefold since the pandemic hit.

Penn LDI
Insights and outcomes from the first 3,000 patients on COVID Watch

In a piece for NEJM Catalyst, our team members discuss how COVID Watch, an automated text messaging system powered by Way to Health, remotely monitors patients with presumed or confirmed COVID-19 at home and quickly supports worsening patients with human care.

NEJM Catalyst
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 deployment time from months to days or hours.

In Harvard Business Review, members of our team share lessons from Penn Medicine's crisis response.

Harvard Business Review