Innovation and Digital Health

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Bodek Lounge in Houston Hall (3417 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

12:00-1:30 PM

Lunch Provided



Every day people leave behind their "digital footprint," posting on an array of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. But what do these posts, taken together, say about our health? Further, how do posts on social media inform researchers about risk for certain diseases? What would an optimal surveillance tool look like to study social media behaviors, and what factors regarding data privacy and sharing do we as public health researchers need to consider?

Join us as Dr. Raina Merchant, Director of the Center for Digital Health at Penn, begins to explore answers to these questions. Through her leadership with the Center for Digital Health at Penn, Dr. Merchant works to advance science by researching the implications of the advancement of digital health technology for patient engagement and care delivery. The Center also serves as an incubator for evaluating and promoting digital health ideas and solutions for providers and patients at Penn Medicine.

In this important talk, Dr. Merchant will discuss what public health researchers can learn by studying digital footprints, and will touch on the important public health considerations regarding data accessibility, privacy, data use, and data sharing. In addition, Dr. Merchant will share what an optimal surveillance tool looks like and how it would perform.

Speaker Bio: 

Dr. Raina Merchant is an Associate Vice President at Penn Medicine and an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She has secondary appointments in the Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care. She is the Director of the Center for Digital Health and Co-Director of the Penn Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars Program (CSP) and the National Clinician Scholars Program.

Dr. Merchant attended Yale University for her undergraduate degree, University of Chicago for Medical School, and the University of Pennsylvania for a Masters of Science in Health Policy Research and the RWJCSP. Her work is at the intersection of digital media and health. She has specifically conducted projects evaluating health behaviors and communication on digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, and Google. One of her projects in this area involves “banking language” through the development of a unique longitudinal database of social media data merged with health record data. Much of her work also bridges new technologies in the field of cardiovascular health and resuscitation science. In this context, she is the Director of the MyHeartMap Challenge, ( a social media and crowdsourcing project aimed at improving (automated external defibrillator) AED access and awareness by engaging the public to serve as citizen scientist.

Dr. Merchant is currently funded by the NIH and has over 100 peer-reviewed publications in journals such as NEJM, JAMA, Circulation, and Health Affairs. Her work has been featured in Wired, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and others. She was recently recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of 10 young investigators likely to have a significant impact on the future of health and healthcare in the US.