Designing new functions for the existing Medisafe App
Medisafe is an evidence-based digital therapeutics company providing medication management solutions for patients across the healthcare continuum.
Medisafe app is a medication tracker that reminds its users to take their prescribed medicines.
The aim was to design new functions for the existing Medisafe system as a solo project to facilitate a better experience for customers and users using design thinking. I first started this project by getting insights from users, brainstorming possible solutions, and prototyping the best ones.
Before diving in, I wanted to understand the needs of potential and target users. In doing so, my initial efforts were to:
Based on the problems of current users and potential users, the next steps were to:
Based on the problems of current users and potential users (via interviews and 50 app store reviews), these three reoccurring challenges were the main concerns.
The application allows users to set alarms as reminders to take medicines at specific times. If they are to take multiple dosages of the same medicine, they are required to set an alarm for each dose. Many users take multiple dosages of the same medicine based on the time that the previous dose was taken. If their schedule changes from the initially set alarms, the user has to manually change the times for each upcoming dose. This can be a tedious process for users that wake up or eat at various times throughout the week. A reoccurring problem with the app among current users was that they could not set an alarm based on the time of their last dose (e.g. 2 hours after the last dose). Therefore, a feature was adding so that users can set alarms based on the time interval between doses as shown on the screen on the left.
"One thing that would make it better is having an easier way to shift a daily regimen backward or forwards. I start my daily regimen when I get up, and I don’t always get up at the same time, so having the ability to start my regimen at a different time and keep the same intervals would be nice." (App Review )
"This app has actually been working great for me, but I have one issue. I would like the option to schedule for specific times in between doses instead of at specific times of the day. " (App Review)
As shown on the left, a meal reminder was added. Another recurring theme for current and potential users is that many medicines are taken at specific times based on the time of their eating schedule. The Medisafe app allows users to set times to take medicine. However, the app does not factor in medications that are taken based on their last or upcoming meal. As mentioned, some if not most users do not eat at the exact time every day. Therefore, another feature that would benefit target users is a meal alarm. This alarm is set at a specific time to alert users on when to eat to properly follow medication instructions as it pertains to eating. They are also able to add a note to themselves to include additional details about their meal plan.
"With taking so many meds it’s hard to remember what to take when. Some require I take so many hours after taking another. Or not eating so much time before or after taking it. Or take with a full glass of water, take with or without food. It gets confusing." (App Review)
Medisafe includes a drug-to-drug interactions feature that alerts users when they have added two or more medications that are known to cause severe or a major interaction with one another. The current Medisafe app advises them of the potential dangers. It alerts the user to consult with their physician immediately. Although the user may not be on prescribed medicines that cause severe or major interactions, users may be prescribed medicines with similar effects. When two drugs that produce similar side effects (e.g. nausea, dizziness, insomnia, etc. ) are combined, the frequency and severity of the side effects are increased. Therefore, another helpful feature would be to add a table that displays the user's medicines and the known side effects for each. Have this feature will make the user aware of possible enhanced effects and communicate their experiences with their physician. The screen design to the left displays the table that users can view to examine the side effects of each medication.
"When I get a new medication not knowing the interaction it might have or cause between the medication I'm already taking. I have multiple doctors prescribing medication and sometimes it's concerning that they are not paying close enough attention and know all of the side effects. From time to time, I have to go back to the doctor for them to give me something else." (Interview)
To learn the current UI style of the app, I simply downloaded the app to my phone, navigated the app from top to bottom, and performed the basic functions of the app (e.g. adding medicines, setting reminders/alarms, adding dependents, and medfriends, etc.). I wanted to keep the same UI design of the system. Based on the current style of the app, several UI styles were important in making design decisions for the new functions.
When users edit their selection (e.g. selecting a time for a reminder), the current page of the screen is greyed out and the modal box (also called dialog box/popup windows) is displayed on top the current page (see the screenshot of the Condition popup to the left or below). This was an important design style to keep in mind for the new features.
The current architecture of the app was confusing at first. I created flow charts for the proposed task flows to see if their location in the app works with the current functions of the app or if it would be difficult for the users to find. This aided me in making the right decisions and solutions on how the features will be added and where.
For the side effects function, I googled the ways data tables are displayed on mobile devices. Sketches of a basic table were created along with different approaches (see below).
Common data table design
This basic method allows users to scroll subsections of the table or the entire table in every direction. However, dual-axis scrolling is confusing to users even if there are fixed title columns.
Using the process of elimination, I chose the best design based on the current needs of the user (showing which medicines have the same side effects). This design is the accordion design layout with the number of medicines displayed. This design limits displaying unnecessary data from being displayed, assisting users with finding their desired data. The number displayed on the screen (to the right of the side effects) is the number of medicines/prescriptions that correlate to the side effects. With this design, users can easily search through the list of side effects and recognize how many medicines cause the side effects.
The data cards design and table design with horizontal and vertical scrolling were eliminated. Although the data cards are nice looking, they provide information that the user may not need. The data table option provided the user with a graphical representation of a table but may also display unnecessary information. And with all the scrolling, who wants their users confused?
In this project, I did not go so far as to conduct usability testing to evaluate the new features. However, this is a crucial phase to refine the proposed solutions and learn more about MediSafe users. I did learn: