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Reference reading: Designing Interactive Pill Reminders for Older Adults: A Formative Study by Sepideh Ansari

Summary and note to myself:

This article discusses about the present technology used to increase adherence to medication among the older adults. It also proposed a a solution that dispenses medication in a way that is “secure, routine, and monitored by their physician or pharmacist”. It suggests 3 main stages in developing a pill reminder: 1. collect user requirements and design a high fidelity prototype 2. pilot testing the mid-fidelity prototype and analyze result 3. propose tasks to improve.

It is stated that non-adherence among patients has been identified as a major public health problem – imposing a considerable financial burden upon modern health care systems (10% hospital admissions, 23% admissions to nursing homes and ~$100 billion each year in the US. Information technology has been used both to measure and enhance adherence).

Key notes:

  • interactive design (reminder + dispenser system)
  • pocket size pill dispenser (portability)
  • secured (authenticate)
  • specific dose intake
  • Primary user: older adult patients ( required to take a long list of medications for extended period of time)
    Secondary user: doctors and pharmacists (to upload and maintain data)
  • Stats, risks, and importance of medication adherence: – regardless of disease categories and age groups
    In high income countries – 50% adherence rates to long term medicationIn low and middle income countries – lower adherence rates
    Millions of people not taking their medication correctly. [ref]
    Consequence of mistaking medication can be dangerous / deadly.
    Many people forget to take their medications regularly – complicate medical problems.
  • Non-adherence to medication – crucial health problem
  • Effective pill reminder – can reduce aforementioned risks and problems and save billions of dollars for patients, insurance companies and the government.
  • Definition of Adherence vs Compliance
  • Barriers to Adherence – psychological problems, inadequate follow-up, side effects of medication, complexity, cost of medication, frequency of dose
  • Sample IT Applications – home dosing routine, medication adherence aids (calendars, pillboxes, counters, pagers), medication reminder software, mobile phone – sms reminders [UbiMeds], Medication Event Monitoring System (MEMS)


Primary usability [U] and experience [E] goals for users of the interactive pill reminder:

[U] Effective – help to load medications in exact amount at consistent times

[U] Efficient – simplified loading procedure

[U] Easy to learn – touch screen, large buttons, feedback

[U] Flexibility – customized to user’s preferences

[U] Safety – accessible only by the user, and medication kept in secure strilized compartment

[E] Enjoyability – user will be able to become more independent and greater quality of life

[E] Helpful – personal calendar – helps user take command of medications and personal life

[E] Motivating – inspire users to take medication correctly

[E] Inviting – aesthetically pleasing

User Requirement Analysis (may not be applicable to my project)

Loading medication –  barcode scanner, collect information, compartment with LEDs

Taking medication – alarms go off, scan fingerprint, info displayed on screen, interactive, medication databse

Miscellaneous – personal calendar, alarm clock, small enough, rechargable

Finally, perform a user study – user interviews, focus group, questionnaire