Penn Med With You


Fostering connectivity amid COVID-19 via a health system–based interactive digital platform

Opportunity

In early 2020, the World Health Organization reported that the COVID-19 pandemic was inducing fear, worry, anxiety, loneliness, and stress, especially among vulnerable populations and those with chronic health conditions.

Health care institutions are woven into the fabric of their surrounding communities, serving as a critical hub of information and resources. However, restrictions such as shelter-in-place orders and social-distancing guidelines in the early days of the pandemic made it difficult for providers to enact community-based interventions to address mental health issues.

In April 2020, we began to explore if a health system–based interactive digital platform could foster connectivity in Penn Medicine communities and provide timely well-being information throughout the lengthy response to and recovery from the pandemic.

Intervention

Penn Med With You is a digital platform that leverages automated texting to assess patient status and provide tailored community-based health and well-being resources when needed. Resources include COVID-19 updates, social support tools, and lighthearted hyperlocal news.

Over four weeks, we enrolled patients being discharged from Penn Medicine emergency departments (EDs) to participate in the program to assess feasibility. We collected self-reported mood and well-being scores from participants longitudinally and asked them to rate the quality of the information and resources they received. 

Impact

The Penn Med With You pilot demonstrated that engaging individuals in a digital community via ED facilitation is feasible.

We also found it feasible to assess and respond to mood-related queries with vetted health and well-being resources via text message. We saw an improvement in low mood ratings, and the stabilization of high mood ratings among participants enrolled over four weeks.

Finally, patients rated their experience favorably, with 77 percent rating the platform as a service they would highly recommend to a family member or friend and 67 percent of unstructured feedback registering as positive.

Team

  • Lauren Southwick, MPH
  • Rachelle Schneider
  • Elissa Klinger, SM
  • Arthur Pelullo, MS
  • Sharath Guntuku, PhD
  • Anish Agarwal, MD, MPH, MSHP
  • Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, FAHA

Collaborators

  • Robin Ortiz, MD
  • Penn Center for Community Health Workers