Penn Medicine gets $2.5M to study RPM’s effect on COVID-19 disparities

By | August 24, 2020

Penn Medicine is getting new money to assess how its COVID Watch remote patient monitoring program is serving its patients, particularly those in Black and Latinx communities.

A $ 2.5 million grant from Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute has been earmarked for a study into how its COVID Watch program – an automated, text-based home monitoring platform designed to reach patients self-isolating at home – is working. 

Particularly, the research will explore whether and how the program is affecting disparities in care among minority populations. It will also study whether using connected pulse oximeters in tandem with the text check-ins is improving outcomes. 

Through COVID Watch –  which has enrolled more than 5,000 patients since its launch in late March 2020, with a Spanish language version launched in May – patients receive text messages twice a day to check on their condition and enable contact with nurses who elevate to higher levels of care if need be.

Penn Medicine says the project spans many departments across the enterprise, including its Center for Health Care Innovation, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Informatics.

The PCORI study period will span from 2020 through 2022, collecting health outcome data enrolled patients and using that data to help explore new ways to implement the program.

The Penn Medicine grant is just part of a larger PCORI initiative that has granted $ 23 million for seven different projects nationwide to improve COVID-19 care delivery.

Others include $ 4.9 million for a RAND Corporation study on clinician burnout, comparing the effectiveness of strategies to improve the mental and physical well-being of health care workers and $ 2.5 million for a State University of New York study to explore different approaches to mindfulness-based stress reduction for improving other mental health outcomes in low-income and minority populations

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Another will give $ 3 million for a Weill Cornell Medicine to study comparing the effectiveness of different primary approaches amid the transition from in-person to remote visits; it will use the PCORI-funded National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network to assess the impact of telemedicine on patient-centered outcomes and disparities in outcomes for patients with chronic disease at many clinics.

As for the Penn Medicine research, “the overall goal of this work is to rigorously assess the outcomes of an innovative and scalable intervention to manage large populations of patients with COVID-19 at home, and quickly escalate care for patients who progress to worsening disease,” said the COVID Watch study’s principal investigator, Dr. M. Kit Delgado, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology, in a statement. “By extending automated, 24/7 care to all patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, this model has the potential to yield significant benefits to communities across the country.”

“By testing the different ways that we interact with patients and monitor them, we think we can optimize remote care delivery for today’s pandemic and how we deliver care in the future,” added Dr. Krisda Chaiyachati, a co-principal investigator on the study and an assistant professor of Medicine. “This work will also be invaluable. We could help Black and Latinx populations prone to not getting the level of care they need. They deserve better.”

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