UnitedHealth Group Research and Development (R&D) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, commonly known as Penn Medicine (Penn), have partnered to advance innovation, efficiency and sustainability in patient health; share key findings with stakeholders; and codesign meaningful, end-to-end solutions that transform health care.

The alliance is designed to accelerate innovation by leveraging both organizations’ unique expertise in health care systems, clinical care, research, science and technology. The partnership signifies the future of health care, where organizations with distinctive and complementary skill sets work together to offer the best care possible and better prevent, detect and intercept disease.

Partners’ First Project: The COBALT Mental Health Platform

The first joint project to come from the UnitedHealth Group R&D and Penn partnership is COBALT — a web-based platform created by Penn’s Dr. Cecilia Livesey in collaboration with teams from UnitedHealth Group R&D. The platform offers Penn employees immediate access to curated mental health support, wellness content, live groups and individual virtual support. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the physical and emotional stress health care workers experience. COBALT successfully supported more than 8,000 sessions from more than 5,000 Penn Medicine employees within the first 30 days of its launch, Penn recently announced.

Dr. David Asch, executive director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, and Dr. Deneen Vojta, executive vice president, Global Research and Development at UnitedHealth Group, championed the project as members of Penn and UnitedHealth Group R&D’s joint steering committee. Allison Davenport, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Pennsylvania and board member of the collaborative with Penn, said, “It takes creative partnership, collaboration and rapid responses to address problems like the mental health of our health care workers during COVID-19. This flexible reaction demonstrates the power of the collaboration between Penn and UnitedHealth Group.

Joint UnitedHealth Group R&D-Penn Steering Committee Leads Initiatives 

The joint steering committee includes balanced representation from UnitedHealth Group R&D and Penn. Board members discuss and vote on proposals under the partnership between the organizations.

“The partnership between Penn and UnitedHealth Group R&D signifies the future of health care — one where researchers, payers, providers and health systems work together to intercept and treat disease,” said Davenport.