MSc Research Project
This research was completed as part of a 2-year MSc in Healthcare & Design at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.
I worked across the end-to-end design process, facilitating user interviews and co-design workshops, utilising design tools to conduct design research, as well as designing, developing, and testing the final product.
Awarded: Best MSc Dissertation Project 2021
Taking medications as prescribed is vital for managing chronic conditions, treating temporary illnesses and improving overall health outcomes. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of patients fail to take their medications according to their prescribed regimens. These interrupted treatment regimens often lead to higher hospitalisation rates and mortality, resulting in further personal, health, and social costs.
Goal: To design a solution for improving medication compliance in the community.
Adopting a design thinking approach, I ensured that this project was as user-centred as possible. I utilised an adapted Double Diamond framework, incorporating mixed research methods to gather qualitative & quantitative data.
A review of existing literature consolidated what was already known about medication compliance and enabled me to identify knowledge gaps that my primary research could complement.
To kick things off, I identified the key stakeholders in healthcare innovation within the National Health Service and evaluated the existing solutions available on the market.
Finally, I grouped the insights obtained through user interviews and surveys regarding medication compliance with common themes found in the literature.
Based on my initial research, a number of patient personas were designed to represent the different user types I may encounter. The COM-B model was used to identify the needs of each individual for them to perform the behaviour of taking medications regularly.
Common themes within the literature were also mapped and categorised into themes as shown below:
Finally, the AACTT framework was used to specify my target audience, ensuring that I addressed their key behaviours and particular action settings when designing an intervention.
The development process began with an ideation session, prompted by strategy and workshop cards designed for the course's Healthcare and Design. I brainstormed and generated over 30 innovative ideas to tackle medication compliance, guided by the previously identified common themes.
These ideas were selected and presented as potential design solutions to my healthcare challenge. Initial concepts were then developed, including physical prototypes and digital wireframes, allowing users to visualise and interact with them more meaningfully.
The digital pillbox soltuion was selected based on participant feedback during a co-design workshop.
Given the positive response and significant interest in the technology behind the digital pillbox, I iterated on this concept further to build a working prototype. Following a rapid prototyping approach with a number of iterations, I used an Arduino device to provide the digital backend technology for this product.
A high-fidelity prototype was hosted on Invision to demonstrate an interactive prototype for usability and desirability testing.
Product desirability was assessed by measuring conversions on a website encouraging visitors to sign up for early access of this product. By presenting my research and prototypes to the public early in the development process, I was able to identify my value proposition and validate my idea before introducing it to the market for public adoption.
Lastly, I facilitated a product demo workshop with a small group of participants. Participants were offered the prototype as a tool to assist them in their actions. The product's usability was then recorded and measured across 5 domains as shown below.
This research project addressed the main objectives I set out to achieve. Although faced with a few limitations, I adopted a design thinking methodology to tackle a healthcare environment challenge. This human-centred approach helped build a deep understanding of the target audiences' challenges and needs, resulting in the development of a user-friendly and effective solution.
The digital pillbox solution, Pillbox Health, is by no means a finished product. Although preliminary usability and desirability tests yielded favourable feedback, there remains scope for further testing and refinement of this technology.
I hope that this study's insights and results will prompt future research and development in this area and promote the use of design thinking in more healthcare challenges in the future.