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Raina Merchant Named to Head New Social Media Lab

  • Monday, 1 July 2013

From:  David A. Asch, MD, MBA - Executive Director, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation

Jill M. Baren, MD, MBE - Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine

Daniel Polsky, PhD - Executive Director, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

Subject: Appointment of Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP as Director of the Social Media Lab at the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP, as the Director of the Social Media Lab at the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation starting July 1, 2013. 

In this new role, Raina will lead a program exploring ways in which new communication channels can enhance our ability to understand and improve the health and health care of patients and populations.  The potential reach of this endeavor is broad—because the relevant disciplinary skills are diverse, and because the likely outputs and activities span fundamental research to practical deployment of communication strategies in clinical and commercial settings. 

To reflect this reach and the scholarly core of the enterprise, the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation has partnered with the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.  With the support of LDI, the Social Media Lab will engage the academic community throughout the University to enrich the research infrastructure necessary to demonstrate leadership in this field.  

The scope of activities will evolve rapidly in response to emerging technologies and communication channels.  Expected areas of focus include digital media data mining, surveillance, and analysis; technology development, use, and management; multi-disciplinary education, training, and research; and establishment of best practices for patient activation and engagement, security, and privacy.

Raina is Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.  She has established herself as a dominant voice in the area of social media and crowd sourcing as it affects population health, with leading academic scholarship and a joint appointment in the Office of Policy and Planning with the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the US Department of Health and Human Services.   In 2012, she was recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of the ten most promising health care leaders in the nation under the age of 40.

Raina received her BA from Yale University.  She received her MD from the University of Chicago where she was also a resident and then chief resident in Emergency Medicine.  She came to the University of Pennsylvania as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and earned her Masters of Science in Health Policy research from Penn during that period.

The Center for Health Care Innovation aims to advance the missions of Penn Medicine through the disciplined  creation, evaluation, and implementation of change. 

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