UPenn launches digital health center

A new initiative at Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine will merge digital data and patient records to study a variety of health outcomes.

The Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health, led by Raina Merchant, MD, will investigate how social media can affect health and be leveraged to improve healthcare delivery. The center's initial research areas encompass identifying social behaviors linked to depression and obesity and studying language changes on social media associated with Alzheimer's and cognitive decline.

Dr. Merchant, who has led the Penn Medicine Social Media Laboratory since 2013, also serves as associate vice president for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Her previous research includes mining Yelp reviews for information about patients' hospital experiences and mapping users' social media to determine their emergency preparedness.

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