How to Improve Medication Access Using Patient Communication

Lima Memorial Health System

Lima, OH

Implemented Solution
PerfectServe Patient Engagement



Ohio-based Lima Memorial Health System is a hospital system with more than 150 physicians and more than 1,500 employees. It’s an affiliate of the larger ProMedica Health System, which provides care for about two million patients per year in northwest Ohio, southeast Michigan, and southern Pennsylvania.


Lima Memorial Health System was facing obstacles related to peri- and post-operative patient and family communication. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges were greatly exacerbated by the preventative measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Stacy Graymire, Executive Director of Nursing at Lima Memorial, oversees the ER, perioperative services, and the OB department. When patients came to one of her departments for surgical care, their loved ones often had to wait in their cars for updates during procedures. There was no regular touch point in place to update family members about patient status, which understandably caused stress.

Lima Memorial needed a better solution that allowed family members to get regular updates during perioperative visits while still adhering to social distancing best practices. Ideally, the solution would support both templated messaging to lean into automation and ad hoc messaging to allow for more personalized communication as needed.


Lima Memorial implemented PerfectServe Patient Engagement to support automated updates to family members related to patient appointments and procedures. The solution—which is built into the PerfectServe Clinical Communication platform that was already deployed at Lima Memorial—allows care team members to send custom or pre-composed messages to loved ones’ personal cell phones about any number of pre- and post-op events (like when a patient is out of surgery, for example). Importantly, family members don’t need a new app or access to a patient portal to make this communication possible—just a phone that can receive text messages.


The process of implementing the Patient Engagement solution presented a small challenge: care team members were accustomed to following very specific workflows before, during, and after procedures. Instilling new habits—even with the greater ease of use afforded by the Patient Engagement solution— isn’t always the easiest path to tread, and the process was made more challenging because the Lima Memorial team hadn’t adopted technology like this before. Due to the intensity of the pandemic, as well as other competing priorities, it took around six to eight weeks to fully adopt the new Patient Engagement workflows.

“The biggest thing for us as an organization was to make sure that we drove the ‘why’ behind wanting this and wanting the team to utilize it,” Stacy said.

Care teams within the hospital worked closely with Lima Memorial’s IT team and PerfectServe’s implementation team to set up unique and customized communication scripts for the new Patient Engagement workflow. Stacy shared that, as a result of the implementation, each department under the perioperative services umbrella started to better understand the value they bring to each patient’s care journey. It’s common that perioperative care team members only see patients while they’re asleep, so it can be harder to appreciate the full impact of the work they do every day.

“As a result of [PerfectServe’s Patient Engagement] implementation, each department … started to better understand the value they bring to each patient’s care journey.”

By communicating with loved ones during procedures, these care team members got direct evidence of how much their dedication to patients means to the people who love them.

“This was one of the key drivers for [clinicians] to see how they were better able to serve that patient’s experience long term, and even their loved ones, and give them those easy updates,” Stacy said. “It felt like the [PerfectServe] team was very positive about working with us and was willing to think outside of the box and be creative as we looked through different ways to make this work. I do appreciate the team that was there to support us, especially on the PerfectServe side.”



Improved “Meds to Beds” Program

Lima Memorial offers its own pharmaceutical services for patients who opt to use the in-hospital pharmacy for their medication needs. Because patients are required to bring a loved one or family member with them on the day of their procedure, that person becomes the designated point of contact for things like procedural or medication updates. This has improved the post-care workflow for patients, which typically goes something like this:

  1. As soon as a patient has a post-op order for medication, that order is automatically triggered to the preferred pharmacy (which is set by the patient).
  2. If Lima Memorial’s pharmacy is filling the order, the Patient Engagement solution sends a text message to the designated contact with instructions about how to retrieve the medication.
  3. Once the patient hits a specific phase of recovery, and the family has received the update from the physician, family members can go pick up the medication.

Usually within the next hour, the patient is ready to go home with everything they need for a successful recovery, including their medication and a post-op care plan.

The improved “meds to beds” program also helped to track program buy-in. Data gathered after implementation helped to show which providers were ordering prescriptions from the in-house pharmacy, as well as how many patients were opting to pick medication up at the hospital. Though it’s difficult to track true financial ROI in this case, the improvement in the “meds to beds” program revealed that, among patients that Lima Memorial could potentially provide a prescription for at discharge, the capture rate rose from approximately 20% to 85% after implementing Patient Engagement.


Happier Patients

Patients receiving care at Lima Memorial expressed positive experiences with the new communication system. Highlights include:

  • A 10% increase in patient experience scores
  • Notable patient experience comments, including:
    • Satisfaction at “having everything they needed” when leaving the hospital
    • Comments directly addressing the much-improved pharmacy experience for
      patients who choose to use Lima Memorial’s in-house pharmacy
    • Patients expressing the increased convenience of getting medications in
      the same place as their procedure, and getting direct notifications when
      medication is ready to pick up


Happier Loved Ones

In general, patients and their loved ones have expressed high satisfaction with the new Patient Engagement solution. Loved ones now get messages sent right to their phones, and the immediacy of communication puts them at ease when updates come through about a patient’s surgery and recovery status. This was really impactful during COVID-19, but continues to improve the experience of family members and loved ones by limiting anxiety levels and lowering wait times for updates. Stacy also shared that it gets loved ones more involved in the patient’s recovery and sets the family team up for success.

“We were able to give patients’ family members a lot more of that mobility while they waited
for their loved one to have surgery, as well as to create touch points to send them text
messages to know about key times for them to start making their way back to the surgical
area for updates from the physician,” she said. “It also gives them the ability to be more
involved in the patient’s recovery and helps them set [the patient] up for the next step.”


Empowered Providers

Though it was mentioned earlier, it’s worth reiterating how beneficial it is for the team at
Lima Memorial to more directly see the impact their care has on patients and their families.
Because the patient experience scores improved, and because those include comments,
clinicians who don’t always interact with patients when they’re awake now get a different

“It’s been very rewarding for [our team] to see what they’ve been able to accomplish
specific to the patient experience,” Stacy said. “We don’t always hear a whole lot of
dialog related to what’s done in that intraoperative period, and for them to see the
value of that in our scores has been very rewarding for them.”

Next Steps

Though Lima Memorial has seen great success with the Patient Engagement deployment, they still hope to get more out of this implementation. In the future, they hope to incorporate the Patient Engagement solution in their cardiovascular service workflows. Stacy thinks the solution could help reduce readmission rates by giving patients more information right at their fingertips. Other opportunities on the wish list include using the Patient Engagement solution in more pre-op communication and messaging, such as appointment reminders and other care notifications like when to stop taking certain medications before a surgery. Stacy has been discussing this expansion with PerfectServe’s professional services team.

“I did have a meeting a couple of weeks ago just to learn more about PerfectServe and the potential for how we can incorporate different communication platforms with other facets of care,” Stacy said.


Like many health systems, Lima Memorial needed a way to more regularly keep patients’ family members updated during procedures, but they had yet to find a solution that seamlessly supported both ad hoc and automated messaging workflows. Though it may be common practice to simply update family members and patients after surgery, this can induce anxiety and sometimes makes it more difficult for the family unit to have a full understanding of the patient’s post-discharge care plan.

After deploying Patient Engagement, care teams are now able to see what a tremendous difference it makes when they can easily communicate with patients’ loved ones during their care journey. By removing the obstacles to regular communication with family members, Lima Memorial has ensured that patients can quickly and easily get both the medication and post-op care plan they need to have a successful recovery. It’s a win for patients and families, the entire care team, and Lima Memorial’s mission to provide high-quality care for every patient who comes through their doors.

“Our goal was to really make [implementation] seamless without placing the burden of work on any direct bedside caregivers, whether that be a nurse, a tech, a physician,” said Stacy. “We’ve been able to start to show [the providers] the little things we can do with technology to really reduce that end user burden of work. And it’s really helped us to drive different platforms forward.”

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