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Dr. Hallowell developing telehealth intervention for lactation support through social innovations lab

Dr. Sunny Hallowell (right) talks with junior nursing student and research assistant Angela Pisarra.

Assistant Professor Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD, PPCNP-BC, IBCLC is leading one of the ten projects selected to participate in the 2016 Nursing & Community Health Social Innovations Lab sponsored by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, supported by the National Nursing Centers Consortium and in partnership with The University of Pennsylvania, Education-Plus, Inc.  Selection was based on a competitive application process where the most innovative community health ideas with the greatest potential to address healthcare gaps in the Philadelphia region were chosen. Fellowships garnering national and regional recognition were awarded to ten teams who will participate in the 2016 Spring Social Innovations Lab Cohort.  The Lab will ‘prepare nurses, nursing students and future nurse leaders in developing healthcare related innovations and business models to effect change in communities, clinical settings, and beyond’, according to the website.

Dr. Hallowell’s recent research highlights the role of nurses in providing lactation support in the hospital setting. The project aims to bridge the family experience from the hospital to home using a mobile application to provide a telehealth intervention focused on postpartum lactation support.   Using a community based participatory research model the project hopes to partner with community members to design both an interdisciplinary educational intervention and develop a mobile application to provide consistent, evidence-based messaging regarding lactation in the postpartum period. The project hopes to also partner with lactation consultants, physicians and other care workers in the community.


Dr. Hallowell has included undergraduate research assistant Junior Nursing student Angela Pissara in development of the project. They join interdisciplinary teams from the Community College of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. has seen the healthcare landscape change where there is a need to design new social enterprise models that are cost effective, financially self-sustainable, adaptive to feedback and metrics, with clear outcomes.   Social innovations proposed in the Social Innovations Lab address key healthcare issues and hope to tackle a diverse array of health issues affecting vulnerable populations including homelessness, immigrant health, health access, incarceration, environmental health, breastfeeding and nutrition. 

The teams are guided by the expertise of Tine Hansen-Turton, Chief Strategy Officer, Public Health Management Corporation, Executive Director, Convenient Care Association and Chief Executive Officer of the National Nursing Centers Consortium and Nicholas D. Torres, Faculty member of the Fels Instiute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, President, Education-Plus, Inc. and CEO, Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School.

The Social Innovation Lab serves as an accelerator for idea development, testing and execution.  The program culminates in a competitive pitch to key stakeholders for funding and assistance to raise funds to help get the best ideas/business plans start-up capital to execute upon their ideas that have the potential for regional, national and global impact.