Challenge

Supporting parents in managing their children’s medication.

Approach

Working with parents, we explored the reality and challenges of administering over the counter oral medication to children. We identified pain points and focused on solutions that didn’t require changes to behaviour or existing hardware. We developed a tiny low-cost sensing solution that automatically tracks when and how much drug has been administered. An accompanying app presents the key information to the user at a glance.

Outcome

We delivered a simple, intuitive, award-winning system that enhances the user experience and helps avoid medication errors. A connected syringe sends data to a smart phone app and presents parents with information about dosage, frequency and time to next dose. The working prototype hardware and iOS application was delivered in 5 weeks.

At a glance

Sector
Connected Health

Services
Design Sprint
UX/UI Development
Software development

Launch Date
November 2018

Team staff on project
5

Automatically tracking children's medication

Managing a child’s medication is hard. Remembering precisely what medication has been given and understanding when it’s appropriate to administer the next dose, remains an ongoing problem for parents and other care-givers.

We wanted to simplify the way parents administer medicine to young children and add value to an existing product, but without asking them to change their pattern of use. A discreet and low cost form of connectivity presented the opportunity to accurately collect dosage data, before presenting it to the user in a digestible and meaningful way.

The problem

As parents, giving the correct dose and knowing when to administer the next one can be confusing, especially if more than one child is ill. We began the project with some ethnographic research to truly understand what would help parents.

This user research identified the following unmet needs:
• Recording doses within a given time period
• Indicating time to next dose
• History of doses delivered
• Dose reminders
• Managing medication for multiple children
• Enabling inputs from multiple carers

children family ethnographic research, connected health smart calpol syringe and connected app

We undertook a five day Design Sprint during which we explored various solutions. The aim of the sprint was to have a prototype that we could present to parents for user testing in just 5 days.

Day 1
Definition

Day one focused on identifying the problem: What might parents struggle to remember? What dosage do they need for children of different ages?

Day 2
Ideation

During day two we started ideation: we wanted to fnd a solution that did not require an add-on or extra step for the user.

Day 3
Creation

We sketched the workfow of a smartphone app, and identifed key flows to test with users. The UI was developed in Sketch® and brought to life in an interactive Flinto® prototype.

Day 4
Development

By day four of our ‘design sprint’ we had something ready to test with users.

Day 5
Testing

On day five we performed user studies and gathered feedback from parents. Results from user testing gave us confidence that the solution was both feasible and useful.

It was crucial to get early feedback from parents to ensure the concepts met their various needs and to uncover more details about the context of use.

Charlotte Harris, Head of Front End Innovation

The technology

From our Design Sprint we had confidence in our concept, and started to develop custom printed circuit boards to fit into the centre of the plunger. Our design relied on adding magnetic strips to the body of a syringe in-place of the dose markings, which are read by a magnetometer to log dose volume.

A low current accelerometer triggers the Bluetooth transmitter to pair with a phone only when needed, thereby maximising life of the integrated battery. Most of the processing is undertaken directly on the circuit board, rather than on the phone’s processor, for a more robust and secure solution.

Our connected app

We wanted to provide a clean UI to give users only the necessary information without additional clutter. The core UI focuses on just one child at a time, whilst additional layers are available without being essential to gain value from engaging with the app. This focused approach ensures information is easy to digest, and reduces the risk of use errors.

Automatically record each dose

MagicPol automatically detects and logs each dose administered, and can remind users when it’s okay to give the next one.

Keep track of dose history and symptoms

Easily view the dosage history for each child, and record their temperature and other conditions while they’re unwell.

Get notified without opening the app

Doses are automatically pushed to the phone via Bluetooth, appearing on the lockscreen as a rich notification.

The outcome

We built a working prototype in 5 weeks, starting with an initial concept to build a 6mm wide custom PCB to a detail design, app prototype and early iteration of iOS developed app. The syringe automatically tracks when and how much drug has been administered, all critical data processing is performed by the embedded software and sent via Bluetooth to the user’s phone. The app presents key information in a simple and intuitive interface, with greater depth of features available for users who choose to engage. The smart syringe and mobile app work together seamlessly to create a simple intuitive system that enhances the user experience and avoids medication errors.