MedReminder - An iOS application prototype to help people with diabetes

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 does not have a useful way to monitor their parent’s medication. I was interested in developing a prototype that would specifically help patients with diabetes and wanted to demonstrate a concept iOS applciation that would work in conjunction with a medical device that could measure blood sugar levels and automatically dispense the required amount of insulin to the patient so that they could avoid overdosing. My research led me to a concept design of Glucomate by Phil Brown that is a pain free glucose monitor. I wanted to go a step further and make the entire process easier by combining the physical device with a mobile phone application.
This led to the creation of the following detailed scenario.

Scenario

Alisha and Larry are a married couple that have two children. Both their children are in different continents and because of the time difference, it is hard to even talk to them over a phone call to catch up once every few weeks. Alisha is a 48 year old woman who works as a management consultant with a very reputed firm that has a global presence. She travels constantly and due to that she struggles to have a balanced diet. She was recently promoted and that caused an immediate addition to her already stressful workload. Rushing through a meal at an airport or hotel buffet is her usual way of achieving her daily dietary needs. Because of the inescapable stress of the job she has high anxiety levels and has been prescribed medication for it. In addition to this she is a Type 1 diabetic and so her body does not produce insulin.

She is required to measure her blood sugar levels before every meal and ensure that she injects the required amount of insulin into herself. It is a time consuming process as she needs to calculate the amount of insulin required every single time using a chart that her doctor has provided for her. Because her calendar is full of meetings and appointments, it becomes very easy for her to forget to book an appointment with her doctor and even the pharmacist in order to fill her prescription every two months.

Even though she has been taking the insulin every day for a while now (She was diagnosed at age 13), she has had episodes where she has collapsed due to her blood sugar level dropping to a dangerous low due because of reasons like forgetting a dose while travelling or during a tough work day. This has caused her to be admitted into emergency care a couple of times.She was offered the choice of an insulin pump multiple times but preferred to go with the insulin syringes as she did not want to be attached to a pump at all times. Due to these incidences, she has lost a lot of weight about 25 pounds ever since her promotion.

Her husband, Larry, is very worried about Alisha’s health and because he is not always in the same city as her, he has no way of keeping track of her daily medicine intake and health. The constant worry and stress has taken a toll on him too. In addition to worrying about Alisha, he now has to worry about taking his own medications too. He has recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes brought on due to the stress. His insulin requirement is very different from her’s however and it is hard to keep track of whether or not both of them have taken their medication every day. Diabetes can be controlled with diet and medication.

Larry wanted to hire a nurse to check in with Alisha every two days but the thought of being dependant on someone she barely knew was something that Alisha wasn’t comfortable with given her nature to want to be self-supporting. She liked being independent and admitting that she was struggling with something wasn’t a situation she wanted to be in.

Larry recently read an article about a new medical device that measures your blood sugar level and automatically dispenses the required amount of insulin from the vial into the syringe after the mobile application is used to calculate the required dose. This way, there is no stress of accidentally calculating the wrong amount of insulin needed and injecting more or less than the required dosage. The calculations are complex and due to Alisha’s busy schedule and anxiety she is prone to making mistakes. This seemed like the best way to control this aspect of her medication requirements without having to be in proximity to her. As a compromise, Alisha agreed to try the device to keep track of her medications and diet.

The medical device - MedMinder, also has a pendant that can be used to call emergency services upon pressing it twice. Knowing that his wife can contact the emergency caregivers at one touch gives Larry the feeling of some assurance.

The iOS application that is used in conjunction with the MedMinder, sends alerts to Larry when Alisha has missed her medication. It reminds Alisha to take her medication on time and contact her emergency caregiver with questions. It lets her set a reminder for taking a doctor’s appointment as well as remembering to go for the appointment. The doctor can send her prescriptions directly to her MedReminder account and she can forward that to her Pharmacy in order to get the drugs that she needs on time. It also tracks her blood sugar levels every time she measures them and her diet in order to calculate the required amount of insulin. Because it keeps such a detailed memo of every dose, the doctor can immediately track how she is doing.

Once Alisha takes the blood sugar test and enters the information about the meal she is about to eat, the MedReminder tracks it and dispenses the amount of insulin required. It also dispenses the Xanax and Buspirone at the required times.

The insulin needs to be stored below 85 degrees. If the temperature of the insulin drops the MedMinder will start beeping and send an alert to both Larry and Alisha.

Many patients with diabetes tend to overuse a site on their body for injecting the insulin causing the development of hardened areas which affects the absorption of insulin. Therefore the application will also automatically suggest a new site every day depending on the day of the week. The sites fed into the system are back of the upper arm, abdomen, outer thigh and hip region.


Persona



Paper Prototypes
After creating the detailed scenario and persona, I quickly sketched a rough prototype of what the mobile application would look like and what features it would include.