Stories of Innovation

About Stories of Innovation

The Stories of Innovation below were produced by the Center for Health Care Innovation in partnership with the Penn Medicine Communications Department

Innovation at Penn Medicine is driven by the thousands of physicians, nurses, allied health workers, IT professionals, support staff and students whose ideas have the potential to transform the field of health care in remarkable ways. As part of our work to enable a culture of innovation at Penn Medicine, we seek to capture and distribute stories about innovative projects that test new ways of thinking.

We believe stories help people make sense of big and important problems and allow audiences to walk in the shoes of providers and patients. By sharing stories, we can transfer knowledge, build empathy and accelerate innovation within our community. Have a story of innovation you'd like to share? Complete and submit this form.  


Right Air

A portable respiratory assistance device to help chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) sufferers finally breathe easy again

COPD, popularly called emphysema, causes millions of Americans to suffer years of intolerable shortness of breath.  With the help of the Medical Device Accelerator, Jake Brenner created Right Air, a respiratory device that fits like a shell over the anterior chest and abdomen and offloads the work of breathing. 

By assisting with the work of breathing, Right Air reduces the feeling of shortness of breath, enabling patients to once again engage in life.

Featured innovator: Jake Brenner, MD, PhD, Founder of Right Air, Attending Physician, Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Heart Safe Motherhood

An evidence-based program to improve outcomes and experience for postpartum women with hypertension

Preeclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure (hypertension) and high levels of protein in the urine.  Hypertension is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and a leading cause of 7-day readmissions for obstetrics patients. 

Professional association guidelines published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend two points of monitoring for at-risk patients, 72 hours and seven to ten days post-discharge after delivery.  Unfortunately, many patients do not attend postpartum visits, making it difficult for providers to obtain the data needed to make informed clinical decisions.  Drs. Sindhu Srinivas and Adi Hirshberg set out to explore if a text message-based system could help monitor women diagnosed with pregnancy-related hypertension.

In 2017, the team completed a randomized controlled trial comparing Heart Safe Motherhood to the usual care of one-time, office-based blood pressure checks.  They found an increase in their ability to obtain at least one blood pressure within ten days of discharge in 92% of patients using text messaging, compared to 44% in usual care. The team also met ACOG guidelines in 80% of their patients, and readmissions dropped to zero percent among remotely monitored women in the trial.

HSM is now the standard of care for obstetrics patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Hospital, and the team is currently partnering with health systems, payers, and vendors to evaluate the ability to scale the program for national impact.  Click here to learn more about HSM.

Featured innovators:
Sindhu Srinivas, MD, MSCE
Director of Obstetrical Services, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Vice-Chair of Quality and Safety, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Adi Hirshberg, MD
Attending Physician, Maternal Fetal Medicine
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Colorectal Cancer Screening Navigation Program

A comprehensive program to reduce the burden of colorectal cancer in Philadelphia 

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Although clinical practice guidelines widely recommend colorectal cancer screening, screening rates among Americans ages 50 to 75 hover around 67% nationally and in Pennsylvania.

The Penn Medicine Colorectal Cancer Screening Navigation Program created by Drs. Michael Kochman and Carmen Guerra seeks to improve colorectal cancer screening rates in the Philadelphia community by providing education, scheduling and preparation support, transportation assistance, as well as personalized access to patient navigators who assist patients from the first phone call to the completion of their screening. 

Since the launch of the program in early 2012, almost 1,000 patients have been screened and five cases of colorectal cancer have been identified.  In addition, 42% of the patients in the program have had pre-cancerous polyps removed through colonoscopy, leading to a meaningful reduction in the burden of colorectal cancer in the Philadelphia community.

Featured innovators:
Michael Kochman, MD, AGAF, FASGE, FACP
Wilmott Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
Perelman School of Medicine

Carmen Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine


A new gold standard for feeding management, lactation analytics, and patient engagement

In any one of the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in the U.S., collectively helping the nearly 500,000 babies annually requiring special care in the first months of their lives, nurses spend close to 13,000 hours each year managing breast milk.  That’s 13,000 hours per NICU - the annual equivalent of six full-time nurses - spent on what nurses call “bartending.” Not feeding, just monitoring, labeling, printing, and logging infant-specific nutritional data.  

Keriton is a HIPAA-compliant breast milk management system designed for nurses and new moms, by nurses and new moms.  The 4-in-1 app allows for easy tracking of breast milk inventories, helps moms and care providers stay in touch via text and photos, auto-generates lactation analytics, and has even been proven to increase milk production. 

Keriton is an excellent example of what can be achieved when faculty and staff from the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine collaborate across disciplines.  In less than two years, Keriton was transformed from a prototype born at a PennApps Hackathon to a top pediatric health innovation.  Click here to learn more about Keriton.

Featured innovators:
Laura Carpenter, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Lactation Consultant
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania 

Vidur Bhatnagar, MBA
Founder of Keriton


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