Penn Medicine-OptumLabs: Request for Proposals
The application deadline for this request for proposals has passed. Stay tuned for other funding opportunities.
Penn LDI and the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation seek proposals for one-year projects that have the potential to lead to valuable and enduring innovations in health care delivery through research, demonstration projects, new educational initiatives, or community service and engagement.
The funding for this initiative comes from a partnership between Penn Medicine and OptumLabs to support activity toward shared goals in research, training, patient care, community health, and innovation. OptumLabs is the R&D arm of UnitedHealth Group, an organization that spans an insurance company (UnitedHealth Care) and a clinical delivery and data arm (Optum). Proposals under this initiative will be judged according to their ability to meet shared goals:
- Make it easier for patients to get needed care or avoid unneeded care. Projects under this theme might facilitate access to care, identify easier ways for needed care to be received, help patients meet appropriate primary or secondary health prevention goals, or help patients avoid ineffective care or care less effective or more expensive than alternatives.
- Make it easier for physicians and other clinicians to deliver appropriate care. Projects under this theme might reduce challenges of patient-clinician communication, improve the structure and use of care pathways, reduce the burdens of interactions with the electronic health record, and automate elements of care to free up clinician time.
- Support equity in the delivery of health care or in the institutions involved in that care. Projects under this theme might redress known disparities, overcome structures that create or perpetuate inequities, or develop systems to monitor progress toward these goals across contexts.
- Reduce the cost of care. Projects under this theme identify ways to add economic efficiency, lowering costs from patient, provider, and/or payer perspectives while maintaining adequate quality and access.
The purpose of this initiative is to advance these goals. Work may be conducted in our local health care environment (i.e., Penn Medicine, CHOP, the VA) or at other US settings alone or in combination. We will not consider projects based on retrospective analysis of existing data, basic cellular or molecular science, or, in general, work less relevant to immediately improving health care. We aim to emphasize impact, for example, prevalent problems, programs likely to have a large effect, and approaches that are logistically and financially feasible enough for others to adopt if successful.
Each proposal, whether research, demonstration project, educational initiative, or community engagement, should touch upon at least one of the identified areas, and each must include a strong evaluation—one sufficient to convince a skeptic whether the project works, does not work, or is worthy of refinement and further evaluation.
We expect most acceptable projects will request between $10,000 and $100,000. Larger awards are possible but would need considerable justification and offer significant promise.
Individual proposals must be led by faculty at the Perelman School of Medicine at the Assistant Professor level or above. Engagement with members of the broader Penn faculty (e.g., from Nursing, Engineering, Wharton, Design, etc) or staff (e.g., from the University of Pennsylvania or its Health System, CHOP, the Philadelphia VA) is encouraged when it can make proposals better.
Describe the project in two single-spaced pages or less, attending to the following points:
- Your purpose and its importance, how this project will advance that purpose in a way that is better than past work by you or others, ongoing work, or work you might have proposed instead.
- How you will do it. Describe in a structure best suited to the project:
- Your plans, including details sufficient to convince others that they make sense
- Your team and their relevance to the project
- Any permissions you need and either that you have them or that you can get them. For example, if you plan to change how physicians interact with Epic, include some truthful and convincing statement that someone in charge will actually let you/help you do that. If you plan to include multiple institutions, particularly those outside of the Penn community, include letters or other convincing evidence that you have or can easily all needed approvals.
- What non-financial resources you will need
- The challenges and pitfalls you may encounter, the assumptions you must make, or the pitfalls you might need to avoid.
- How you will know whether it worked. The evaluation plan should be rigorous and as close to the goal as possible. Convincing evaluation plans are critical.
- What it will mean and what you will do if the project goes the way you expect or if the project does not go the way you expect.
- Your timeline.
- What money you need. This section is excluded from the one-page limit, so be clear and justify well.
Include an NIH format biosketch for the key members of your team if you have those handy. If you don’t already have an NIH format biosketch, don’t bother putting one together just for this proposal—as a replacement, provide no more than a quarter page paragraph about each of the key members of the team. This section is also excluded from the two-page limit.
- Laboratory or basic science proposals are discouraged. This initiative is meant to support pragmatic prospective work extremely proximate to its ultimate application.
- Proposals that are clearly appropriate for other funding mechanisms or sources, like NIH, are discouraged.
- Budget elements that do not reflect the marginal costs of doing the project are discouraged. No indirect costs are permitted. Support for investigator effort and internal service center fees tied to faculty effort are not permitted unless independently justified.
What To Expect
- Projects will be reviewed for merit and alignment with this program’s goals. Elements of proposals or their budgets may be negotiated.
- Reviews will be performed as quickly as possible, but timing will be sensitive to volume.
- All awardees will be required to submit regular, but simple, progress reports.
Please note: Do not send this proposal to the University Office of Research Services before submitting it to LDI. As a condition of funding, PIs of all approved proposals must eventually submit a letter from ORS indicating that the project meets all regulatory standards, but these approvals need not be obtained prior to submitting the proposal to LDI.