Category Archives: CHIBEblog
The National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC) has named CHIBE-affiliated faculty member Ravi Parikh, MD, MPP, a Kornfeld Scholars Program 2020 Grantee. This career development award, according to NPCRC, is given to junior faculty to allow for protected time to develop and conduct the pilot research necessary to be competitive for larger, extramurally funded awards.
Dr. Parikh’s project is on machine learning approaches to improve serious illness communication among patients with advanced cancer. The long-term goal of his research program is to “design and evaluate technology-focused interventions to improve palliative care delivery for patients with cancer.” Learn more about the project here.
“This award is meaningful to me because it is a chance to join a fantastic network and learn how to advance our work in predictive analytics from theory into practice,” said Dr. Ravi, who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn and Staff Physician at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center. “I’m excited to use data science to actually shift care delivery in such an important area—oncology.”
Dr. Parikh also recently won an R35 subcontract with Justin Bekelman, MD, (PI: Caryn Lerman, MD) to study machine learning mortality risk prediction work.
In addition, Dr. Parikh also had 4 presentations at the recent 2020 ASCO Annual Meeting, including one oral presentation. He will also be speaking at the 4th Advisory Council Meeting on Oncology Alternative Payment Models on June 25, 2020.
Read CHIBE’s Q&A with Eugenia C. South, MD, MS, Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
How would you describe your work environment right now as an emergency medicine physician during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Emergency medicine physicians were trained for a time such a COVID-19. Everyday, we work in a sort of organized chaos. We take care of critically ill patients, often with little background or knowledge about their history. We make quick, life-saving decisions. And everyday we see the downstream effects of structural barriers to health. I was incredibly proud to see our department lead on many levels to manage the COVID-19 response for Penn. On a personal level, one of the most challenging aspects of the initial days of the pandemic was uncertainty around availability of proper PPE. This was an issue across the country and remains an issue. I worried — will I catch COVID-19? Will I bring it home to my family? Will I die? Thankfully, this is no longer an issue at Penn, but I will never forget the feeling of wondering if I was safe at work.
Can you tell us about your partnership with Harriett’s Bookshop?
At the start of the pandemic, when businesses were forced to close their doors, I was very concerned for small businesses, especially those that are minority owned. Would they survive? I decided to support Harriett’s Bookshop — a local bookstore recently opened by an amazing Black woman Jeannine Cook — with book giveaways on Twitter. Then, she came to me with the idea for Essentials for Essentials: a way to provide front-line health care workers with books, which are the ultimate getaway in a time of stress. Fifty health care workers in the PMC and HUP emergency departments choose a book they wanted, she put it online, and within 9 hours, kindhearted strangers had bought the books. Win-win-win. She expanded to other department and hospitals.
What’s on your mind right now as a Black emergency medicine physician in Philadelphia, and what kind of real change do you hope comes of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations?
So much. Before George Floyd was killed and before the nation erupted in protests to end police brutality and in support of Black lives, many White people thought racism was a relic of the past, or just the rare actions of a few bad people. The truth is that racism is an insidious, pervasive, and constant feature of how our society is organized, and that includes at Penn Medicine. It affects me and my Black and Brown colleagues. It affects trainees. It affects our Black patients. So I am asking all of us right now: Are we ready to do the hard work, look inward, and truly become an antiracist organization? Or are we going to settle for symbolic gestures devoid of action? I am hopeful for the former, which will take resources, commitment, and a willingness to sit in our discomfort in acknowledging the constant presence of racism in our lives.
Black Lives Matter. The Black community is suffering from the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 and from police violence on top of centuries of pervasive and systemic racism. Those of us at CHIBE seek to determine how to help our society heal and address some of the important challenges that are in front of us. While I am not a member of the groups who have been targeted by racism and police violence, and I cannot truly know what people from the communities that are most directly affected are experiencing, I recognize the pain and the hurt and the need for us to do better.
Efforts to improve health in populations have been a central focus of our Center, and we are proud of the exceptional work that our affiliated faculty do to improve population health. However, while many faculty have contributed to addressing health disparities, we need to do more. Much more. CHIBE will redouble our efforts to prioritize diversity and inclusion in our ranks and to explore efforts to make contributions to research that examine questions like the distributional equity implications of behavioral economic interventions. We will work with our faculty and senior staff to develop seed support for new initiatives through our pilot grant mechanisms and programming through activities like our seminars, retreat, and annual conference.
With gratitude and appreciation,
Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD
In many low- and middle-income countries, COVID-19 poses a major threat to health and economic outcomes. Many countries have limited health system capacity to cope with increased caseloads and fewer resources to protect against the impacts of lockdowns and a global economic slowdown. In South Africa and other countries with high HIV prevalence, the crisis also poses new challenges to ongoing efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.
As part of their work with the nudge unit they have launched in South Africa (Indlela: Behavioural Insights for Better Health), CHIBE Associate Directors Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD; and Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA; and Project Managers Laura Schmucker, MPH; and Noora Marcus, MA, have developed several resources that provide guidance to low-and middle-income country (LMIC) governments and communities as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Find three documents below: a guide to HIV care continuity led by the Indlela team, and tips for physical distancing and communication during COVID-19, created in collaboration with Indlela, ideas42 and the South African Labour and Development Research Unit SALDRU.
Behavioural Interventions and Nudges to Support HIV Care Continuity during COVID-19: A guide for programs, policymakers and researchers
This guide for programs, policymakers, and researchers acknowledges that the pandemic has complicated ongoing efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. For each behavioral challenge (e.g. health care workers’ fears of going to work because of the risk of COVID-19 transmission or health care workers’ psychological and financial stress, which can affect decision-making and lead to burnout), this guide offers potential solutions rooted in behavioral science.
This tipsheet offers concrete ways that governments and institutions can ensure individuals participate in physical distancing. One recommendation, for example, is to lower the costs associated with physical distancing by increasing subsidies for essentials such as cooking gas or food rations. *Also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese language versions.
How can you ensure individuals understand and follow guidance necessary for COVID-19 mitigation? Communication is key. This tipsheet highlights several tools and methods to make sure information is easily communicated to the public. For example, it suggests making the desired behavior simple and easy to do, delivering messages that are catchy and memorable, and appealing to people’s social nature. *Also available in French and Spanish language versions.
Indlela recently released its June newsletter that describes its goals, progress, and team and talks more about these resources and a recent behavioral economics-focused webinar; you can also sign up for the quarterly newsletter here.
The CHIBE global health team encourages organizations that are engaged in health service delivery or are supporting the COVID-19 response to contact them to discuss collaborations.
Congratulations to Shivan Mehta, MD, MBA, MSHP, who has received funding for a research grant that will evaluate choice architecture for colorectal cancer screening outreach at a community health center in Pottstown, PA.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Foundation’s annual Young Investigator Awards, which is what Dr. Mehta has won, are granted to “top early-career researchers from leading cancer centers seeking tomorrow’s cures.”
“It is an honor to receive this award and to be nominated by the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania,” Dr. Mehta said.
This funding will provide support for a project at a community health center in Pottstown called Community Health & Dental Care.
“We know that colorectal cancer screening remains limited in underserved populations, and there are racial/ethnic disparities in access and outcomes,” he said. “This will allow us to evaluate different ways of offering choice of screening between colonoscopy and stool testing without requiring patients to attend a face-to-face visit.”
“NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Award recipients go on to make incredible contributions to the global oncology community,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN in a press release. “These men and women are among the best of the best up-and-coming cancer researchers, and NCCN is proud to provide a step up on their career journey. Each of these studies represents a critical learning opportunity that can help us save lives and lessen hardships for people with cancer.”
This award recognizes “general internists and their organization that have successfully developed and implemented innovative role model systems of practice improvement in ambulatory and/or inpatient clinical practice,” according to a SGIM press release.
Dr. Patel, who is a member of CHIBE’s leadership team, was honored for improving care within the quality domains of the 2000 IOM Crossing the Quality Chasm report: “safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency and equality, or the Patient Centered Medical Home goals of accessible, coordinated, patient centered, team based, and comprehensive care.”
The 2020 selection committee for this award was comprised of:
James (Jim) Richter, MA, MD, Chair
Reena Gupta, MD
Emily Fondahn, MD
Martin Arron, MBA, MD
Stewart Babbott, MD
Congratulations to Christina Roberto, PhD, the Mitchell J. Blutt and Margo Krody Blutt Presidential Associate Professor of Health Policy, member of CHIBE’s leadership team, and Director of the PEACH Lab, who has earned tenure.
“In the short time since she has arrived at Penn, Dr. Roberto has created a remarkable body of scholarship on the epidemiological and behavioral aspects of food as well as on the effects of policy changes on how people eat,” Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy Chair Steven Joffe, MD, MPH, said. “She has established herself as a true international leader in these areas. I’m thrilled that the Perelman School of Medicine has chosen to recognize her excellence by promoting her to Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy with Tenure.”
“Getting tenure makes me reflect on how grateful I am for all the support and help along the way,” Dr. Roberto said. “I’ve been lucky to work with incredibly wise and generous mentors, wonderfully talented students and trainees, amazing collaborators, and phenomenally bright and hardworking staff. Together we have helped advance the science of chronic disease prevention and informed policies and programs to promote healthy eating habits. The world is making real progress on creating healthier food environments, but there is still much work to be done. I’m glad to be part of a team and department that pushes the science, strives to make the world better, and makes the job fun.”
According to the ASA website, those selected as fellows must have an “established reputation and have made outstanding contributions to statistical science.” In addition, the designation of ASA fellow has been an honor for nearly 100 years.
Read our Q&A to get to know Kristen Daskilewicz, MPH, project manager for the PEACH Lab.
What projects are you working on right now?
The PEACH Lab is currently implementing three R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health. COVID-19 has been a big challenge, as our grants involve extensive fieldwork. While these circumstances are deeply unfortunate, it’s been exciting to see the creative methods our team has come up with to continue our work safely in this “new normal.” We are currently gearing up to transform our Food Pantry project to involve a contactless food delivery component. This will help our research participants, the majority of whom are older adults, access food in a safe way, while also ensuring our research project can continue to collect meaningful data.
What do you find rewarding about your work?
Hands down, the most rewarding part of my job is working with the incredible PEACH Lab team. I’m inspired every day by this group of smart and hard-working people, who continue to impress me seven months in. In particular, I enjoy troubleshooting project challenges with our research coordinators and assistants. I’m also deeply grateful for the leadership provided by Drs. Christina Roberto and Laura Gibson, who are so dedicated to the professional growth of our team members and producing innovative science.
How did you get interested in the field of the psychology of eating/consumer health?
Joining the PEACH Lab was a happy accident. I spent the first decade of my career in sexual and reproductive health and justice, the majority of which was spent abroad. When I applied for this position, the system showed only a generic project manager position – I wasn’t sure which department I was applying to, and was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by the PEACH Lab. After interviewing for the position, what drew me to wanting to work with the PEACH Lab was Christina’s dedication to strategic science, which resonated with my past work at the University of Cape Town in engaged scholarship and generating research to inform policy.