Problem Space

As our population ages, many adult children are becoming more involved in their parent’s care.  This includes larger issues such as finances and making their homes safer to more daily involvement such as transportation and meals.  Parents are taking more medication so an added stress along with safety is making sure they take the right medication and at the right time.  Automatic medication dispensing devices are currently available to help a patient take the right medication at the correct time.  However, besides a simple text message if a medication is missed, a care giver such as child does not have a useful way to monitor their parent’s medication. 

The MedMinder app alerts the caregiver if the patient has missed a pill or appointment. It also reminds the caregiver to get the pill refills. The caregiver can enter the pill reminders and appointment reminders in the calendar. The app also allows the caregiver to enter the contact information of the patients, doctors and the nurses.


Andrew recently started attending college and is studying to be a software engineer. Although the university he attends is in the same city, he is not be staying with his widowed mother, Anne, as staying on campus is mandatory during the first year of college. Anne has high blood pressure and presbyopia. While Andrew was still at home, he able to make sure that his mother took the correct dosage of the right medication at the right time and that she went for all her health related appointments. Now, however, he will be unable to do this. He is concerned that his mother might miss taking her medication and also forget to go to her appointments. 

As a result, Andrew decided to buy his mother the MedMinder Automatic Pill Dispenser system. The MedMinder allows patients or their caregivers to distribute the different pills according to the dosage and the time at which the patient needs to take them. It also reminds the patients to take their medication at a specific time by beeping and it allows the caregiver to check if the medication was taken through an integrated iOS application.  Andrew set up the MedMinder and started a new account on the integrated iOS app (Fig 2). He entered his phone number and email id along with the phone numbers and email addresses of his mother, the doctor and the nurse (Fig 5). He then entered the list of medication and the time at which they need to be taken. Andrew updated the appointment schedule in the app so that he can monitor his mother’s health related appointments (Fig 8). A few days later, Andrew got an alert on his phone stating that his mother had not taken her medicine (Fig 3). He tapped on the “View Alerts” option and saw the medication she had missed (Fig 4). He taps the call Anne option (Fig 7). He reminds Anne to take her medicine (Fig 8) and goes back to the list of medicines and marks the check box.

Another time, Andrew got an alert stating that Anne had not gone to her appointment (Fig 10). He taps the “View Alerts” option to see the appointment calendar (Fig 11). He then tracks Anne (Fig 13) and sees that Anne in the vicinity of the doctor’s office. He called Anne to confirm if she was on her way to the appointment and she replied in the affirmative.




User Testing


The”Think Aloud” protocol was used during the interviews with the two users. In this method, the user states what they expect of a certain part of the interface, they talk about what confuses them and what delights them about the application. At the same time the interviewees are asked questions on the statements they made. This allows the interviewer tounderstand that people do while interacting with the interface as well as why they do it. 


The participants were asked to examine each screen and interact with the different functions of the screen. However before interacting with a feature, they stated what they thought would happen next.They tested the entire “Alert” flow of screens. Also tested the “Calendar” Function where they could add appointments or pills. They examined all the other screens that didn’t have functional depth and stated their opinions


Two participants were asked to use the prototype and were asked to “Think Aloud” while using the prototype.

Participant 1: The first user was a 55 year old woman who has elderly parents. She was very similar to the persona , as she too has a very busy life with a lot of commitments. She doesn’t have children to take care of but she has a very demanding work life and is constantly traveling. As a result she cannot make sure her parents have their pills on time and go for the appointments. She is constantly anxious about her parents as one of her parents recently had a serious health scare. She loved the concept of an app that would remind her of her parents appointments and pill refills and that would alert her if one of her parents forget to take their pills.She first tested the “Alert” feature. She stated that the app was aesthetically pleasing. She did not have any trouble navigating through this particular feature. Next, she tested the “Calendar” feature.  The thought the progression of the screens was very intuitive and natural. However, she had a hard time scrolling though to select the date and time and stated that it would be better if that particular widget had been larger. 

Participant 2: The second user was a 26 year old student. He recently started graduate school in Atlanta. He has an elderly aunt whom he used to take care of. However, as he recently moved to a new locality in order to be closer to school, he is unable to take care of his aunt as he used to. He is not as old as the persona but like the persona he has a lot going on and hence would really appreciate having a device that would alert him if his aunt missed a pill and remind him about her appointments and pill refills.

While going through the “Alert” feature, he stated that the exclamation point in the second screen very clearly indicated that that particular medicine had been missed. He stated that he liked the thoroughness of the option on the third screen. After this, he tested the “Calendar” set of screens. He stated that he was surprised to see that pills as well as appointments could be added. He said that he’d prefer if he could switch between a monthly display to one where the entire year is displayed in the calendar. Next, he tested the other screens. He said that he would like to access frequently used function quickly and suggested the use of a bar of icons of frequently used functions on every page. He appreciated the broad functionalities available in the application.

Wearable Alert

The wearable will be a device that the patient carries with them through out the day that communicates when to take their medication. The pendent will communicate the following information:

  • when to take the next medicine
  • additional message if medicine is missed
  • review of upcoming and/or previous medicines
  • current time

Experimenting with different forms

Lego blocks were used to experiment with different forms in order to come up with a wearable that would alert the user.

Mood Board


Device Screens