A clinical pharmacist is working with a team to develop an easier way for patients to manage multiple medications after hospital discharge with the Pill Passport.

Trailblazer Challenge: Pill Passport

OSF Innovation is developing hospital-based Innovation Hubs where anyone across the Ministry can learn to engage in improvement, creative thinking and executing solutions.

The first hub launched at OSF HealthCare Saint Paul Medical Center in Mendota, Illinois. This included the kickoff of an OSF Trailblazer Challenge, where Mission Partners could submit their ideas, collaborate with others and be selected as a winner to develop solutions that can improve the hospital discharge process.

The competition resulted in 39 ideas, with four selected to go before leaders for either further development or implementation. This is the final blog in a series highlighting the finalists.

Helping patients better understand their medications

As a clinical pharmacist at OSF Saint Paul Medical Center in Mendota and OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, Illinois, Rachel Gonzalez sees the difficulties patients face when sent home from the hospital with multiple medications. So when she got the chance to work with a team to improve the process, she jumped at the chance.

“There are a variety of reasons patients don’t take their medications, including not understanding what their pills are for, visual impairments and a lack of support to help them keep track of everything they are taking,” said Rachel. “This leads to a worsening of their medical conditions, hospital readmissions and unnecessary services.”

As a result, she along with Patty Ohlendorf and Jana Callahan created and pitched a solution to help patients navigate their medications following hospital discharge. Pill Passport is a hand-held, personalized tool that includes pertinent health care information, a list of medications and what they are for, an easy-to-read chart for help loading pill boxes, pill space for easy identification and an erasable pen to make changes to their medication list.

“With this device, patients don’t necessarily have to know what their medications are called, but they can see what they look like and how often they take them because there would be a chart that would tell them how many pills of each medication to take a day and at what time of day,” Rachel said. “So, it also becomes a resource when patients or their caregivers are trying to load their pillboxes during the week.”

The team’s idea was approved for further development and now has a working prototype. Pill Passport is being piloted with OSF Home Care Services nurses and their 20 patients.

We are all innovators 

The development of Innovation Hubs and Trailblazer Challenges is just one way OSF Innovation is working to dispel the idea that innovation only happens in Peoria, and that everyone can harness their gifts toward creating solutions to transform health care.

“I enjoy coming up with ideas for health care solutions; being able to express those ideas, build them out and get feedback has been incredible and, quite frankly, flattering,” Rachel said. “By having the flexibility to talk to fellow Mission Partners on the front lines of care, I am positive we can grow this concept into something that will benefit patients everywhere.”

Mission Partners like Rachel are critical to the Mission of OSF. They have firsthand knowledge of problems at the frontlines of care and operations and can courageously make their voice heard, impacting health care delivery for patients across the organization.

Last Updated: February 1, 2023

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About Author: Denise Molina-Weiger

Denise Molina-Weiger is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since March 2015. She initially came to OSF to write about the work taking place at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, one of the world’s largest simulation and innovation centers and went on to become the Media Relations Coordinator for OSF Innovation which was developed to help the hospital system lead the way in transforming care.

Before joining the OSF HealthCare team, Denise was a reporter for Peoria Public Radio for ten years, writing on everything from politics, housing and transportation issues to hospital care in the region. She earned her bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting from Western Illinois University in 2003 and received her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2004.

Denise lives in West Peoria with her husband, son and two crazy dogs. In her spare time, she likes to snuggle on the couch with her family and watch cooking shows on Netflix. She loves taking road trips with her family and then complaining about it when they are over.

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Categories: Innovation