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Penn Medicine Programs Earn Clinical Care Innovation Grants

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   July 12, 2022

Independence Blue Cross is backing three programs developed in Penn Medicine's Center for Health Care Innovation with $200,000 grants aimed at helping the programs address gaps in care for underserved populations.

Three programs launched out of Penn Medicine's Center for Health Care Innovation are receiving $200,000 grants from Independence Blue Cross.

The Clinical Care Innovation Grants aim to help the three programs, which address barriers to healthcare access for underserved populations, scale up their services. Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross is among the nation's most forward-thinking health plans in identifying and supporting new technologies and strategies that target gaps in care.

The grants will support:

  • Healing at Home, a program led by Kirstin Leitner, MD, an assistant professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology; Lori Christ, MD, an assistant professor of Pediatrics; Laura Scalise, MSN, RN, a nurse manager; and Emily Seltzer, a senior innovation manager at the Center for Digital Health that uses an AI-guided chatbot to provide on-demand assistance and resources, including mental health services, to new mothers during the vulnerable "fourth trimester;"
  • The Pregnancy Early Access Center (PEACE), a program led by Courtney Schreiber, MD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chief of Family Planning, which provides resources for pregnant women, including and especially services both before and after birth for women who experience miscarriages; and
  • A program led by Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, a professor of Emergency Medicine and director of the Penn Medicine Center for Addiction Medicine and Policy, that improves access to buprenorphine and other substance abuse treatment services, including telehealth outreach and navigation services, for people of color.

“The funded projects this year also address areas in which some of our most vulnerable patients may see the greatest benefits,” Elissa Klinger, director of health equity for Penn Medicine’s Center for Digital Health, said in a press release. “For example, black women in Philadelphia experience higher rates of severe pregnancy related health problems, particularly in the postpartum period, so programs like Healing at Home can enhance critical postpartum support that may ultimately help drive down rates of maternal morbidity. PEACE provides urgent and timely pregnancy care while promoting health equity. And increasing access to buprenorphine and other substance use treatment services targets the burdens of substance use and overdose striking in communities of color in Philadelphia.”

"Independence Blue Cross looks for novel interventions with strong early evidence and high potential to improve value-based care, so winning three awards is meaningful validation of Penn innovation programs,” added Roy Rosin, chief innovation officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and interim executive director of the Center for Health Care Innovation. “Our teams have shown they can make a difference in areas of care and patient populations that could benefit most from change, and with Independence’s partnership, we can advance and scale this work.”

Three Penn Medicine programs were also chosen last year for grants from Independence Blue Cross. Each of those programs has either expanded to serve more patients or launched a new study.

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.

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