MedixScan

Neharika Sidda

See it On Campus: Level 2

Visitor Info

Making Over-the-counter Drugs Accessible Through Digital Solutions.

What is MedixScan?
MedixScan is a mobile application created to provide easy access to drug facts labels (DFLs) for over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Created through participatory UX processes and maintaining a strong focus on user-centric design principles, MedixScan aims to empower users to make informed decisions about their medication usage by delivering clear, concise, and accessible drug information right at their fingertips.

MedixScan exists to:

Encourage Safe Usage of OTC Medications

Misuse of Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications is a prevalent problem arising due to misconceptions about the ‘risk-free’ nature of OTC drugs.

MedixScan aims to empower users to make safe, informed decisions about their medication purchases and usages.

Bridge Communication Gaps

There exsits a flow of communication between; healthcare professionals, pharmacists, and patients regarding the purchase and usage of OTC drugs.

MedixScan can play an important role in helping facilitate these interactions and bridge the gaps currently in exsistence.

Create a Supplemental Digital Solution

Years of research and iteration have gone into the design of the current Drug Facts Table (DFT).

MedixScan is not a redesign, it is introduced as a digital solution to supplement the current state of the DFT, by making use of design research and participatory design methodologies.

How does MedixScan Work?
MedixScan is designed as a reliable and user-friendly interface where individuals can quickly retrieve essential information about OTC drugs, including; active ingredients, dosage instructions, warnings, and usage precautions. MedixScan is built into a mobile interface and with the help of quick-response (QR) codes scanned from OTC drug packaging, streamlines the process of accessing drug facts labels.


MedixScan in applicationAt home (OTC drug usage):

QR code is present on physical bottles so access to the DFT isn’t lost upon unpackaging. 
re-checking Drug Facts
logging expiration dates
cross-referencing medical details


MedixScan in application In pharmacies/drug stores (OTC drug purchasing):

accessing Drug Facts quickly
easily viewing information in English or French. 

Why is MedixScan important?
MedixScan replaces and/or supplements the need to read small print on packaging or search through websites to correctly and effectively administer OTC drugs.
The design process below shows the full scope of the project and all the research & design phases that came together to bring MedixScan to life.


Throughout my project I will be using acronyms, some are commonly used, others may not be.
Below is a a short glossary to refer back to if any of the acronyms used are unfamiliar.

ACRONYM


OTC

DFL

DFT

CDFT

FDA

MEANING


Over-the-counter: Products with active ingredients that can be purchased without a prescription

Drug Facts Label: a required label for over-the-counter products containing regulatory information.

Drug Facts Table: the same as a Drug Facts Label, this term is more commonly used in Canada.

Canadian Drug Facts Table: the official name for governmentally issued Drug Facts Tables.

The United States Food and Drug Administration: created the DFL regulations that Canada follows.

The Problem

Misuse of Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications is a prevalent problem arising due to misconceptions about the seemingly risk-free nature of OTC drugs1.

Drug Facts Labels (DFL) on OTC medications are often ignored and lead to dangerous outcomes for patients who ignore allergens or administer incorrect dosages.** This problem can be attributed to many factors, with some of the most common ones being; communication, legibility, language, education.*

Tackling this problem through a design lens, led to the conception of MedixScan.

The Solution

Creating a mobile interface to make over-the-counter medications more accessible; through digitising the Canadian Drug Facts Table.

MedixScan consists of two parts:

I focused heavily on the CDFT interface before moving into building the MedixScan application, based on all the research I collected in the process of building the CDFT.

Research

MedixScan’s research was conducted in phases and in accordance with every iteration being designed. The initial research consists of primary research collected to better understand the semantics and regulation of OTC drugs, while the rest of the research phases can be categorised under participatory design methods employed during the course of making MedixScan.

Guiding Questions

In order to further solidify a direction to take and to clarify its purpose, the following guiding questions helped identify some of the key issues, opportunities and challenges that arose and need to be addressed through the course of this project.


Literature Review

The current CDFT references the “United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) applicable monographs”.3 The FDA’s OTC monograph establishes the conditions for an OTC drug to be given a therapeutic category (e.g., allergy products, sleep aid).4

To recieve these categorisations and be sold commercially, OTC labeling must go through regulatory standards defining an OTC drug’s; active ingredients, purpose, uses, dosage, administration, etc,.4

To understand these terms and my role in finding design solutions, I began my initial research phases with an in-depth study learning about all the different regulatory bodies and organisations that come together to make these labels.

Primary Research

Looking at OTC drugs in local drug stores and pharmacies helped begin ideation for my digital CDFT design.

By collecting a range of different medications & products with DFLs, I was able to compile their sections & characteristics into a spreadsheet. The areas marked in red are as seen on the respective DFL. This spreadsheet helped gauge colour usage through the packaging designs and identify trends that could possibly be integrated into my design.

In addition to black & white, the colour red was used, but quite sparingly, limited to sections indicating ‘warnings’, ‘keep out of reach of children’, and ‘active ingredients’.

Using the information from the spreadsheet, I begain grouping together sections to help build the sections to be displayed on the mobile interface. The sections being grouped are only those that weren’t found specified in CDFT regulations.8

This process of grouping and colour coding helped figure out the sections to be displayed in the mobile interface.

Prototype #1

These initial research phases led to my first protoype. Using this prototype, I was able to test the design with a wide range of users and try using these insights to further refine my ideas and find new features in the process

Prototype #2

The first protoype was made to create an idea of my concept for the DFT interface, but the colours (only chosen to differentiate between categories for myself) proved to be too distracting for everyone I tested the design with.

For my second prototype, I used colours originally found on the OTC drug I was designing for, and added very rough transitions to guage how people felt with interactions within the interface.

I also collected insights on what features can be added, improved, and removed for the second iteration.

Prototype #3

This version of my prototype included all the changes I’d been testing up till this point. This prototype was based entirely on the testing and feedback I’d gotten until then and helped build my ‘final’ prototypes as the project drew to a close.

Design Considerations

When dealing with the possibilities of design solutions for the DFL it was important to stay close to the original design of the DFL even in a digital format. The current DFL is rooted in years of research, iteration, and careful considerations to make its current design*.

Therefore, most of the digital solutions employed for MedixScan involve very deliberate design changes, being mindful and recognizant of the original DFL & its considerations.

The following are examples of considerations kept throughout the design of MedixScan, showing its parallels with the original CDFL design.

Colour: Drug Facts Label

The current DFL uses very little colour, its palette consists of a white background, black text, and occasional usage of red to highlight certain information*.

Colour: MedixScan

In the MedixScan DFL interface, usage of colour is very intentional, the background uses colours taken from the packaging being scanned, while the information cards maintain the usage of black and white as the original. 

Red is rarely used throughout the application’s interfaces to maintain its significance, and is placed in the same format (ex. Icon, font, highlight) as seen in the drug’s original DFL.

Typography: Drug Facts Label

The typeface used for most CDFTs are often a standard sans serif font such as Arial or Helvetica. These typefaces generally have a large x-height and adequate spacing between characters.*

Typography: MedixScan

The typeface used for MedixScan is DM Sans. Sans serif fonts appear cleaner for digital interfaces and may be better for comprehension in medical contexts.5 The font styles throughout the digital CDFT interface imitate the font styles in the original DFLs, such as bolded headings, maintaining the same text emphases through both interfaces. The size of the font is also taken into consideration to make a comfortable reading experience even without using text adjustments.6

Active Ingredients: Drug Facts Label

Active ingredients for OTC drugs are displayed in two areas of a drug’s packaging. 

1. On the front of the Drug’s packaging.

2. On the Drug Facts Label.

An OTC drug’s ‘Active ingredients’ is always paired with its ‘purpose’, these two sections have a strong emphasis throughout drug fact labels*, oftentimes even being highlighted.

Active Ingredients: MedixScan

To maintain a similar emphasis on active ingredients & purpose as the DFL, MedixScan displays this information in a section at the very top of the interface. This is designed to be expandable/ collapsable and is present throughout all the screens of the DFL to allow access to this information at any time. 

Final Iterations

The following screens & protoypes are the final workings of the MedixScan & DFT interfaces.
The main changes being worked on at this stage are:

Making the active ingredients/purposes more simple & accessbile throughout the DFT interface.

Configuring user flows for the MedixScan app.

Highlighting key features of the application & refining them.

SCREENS:
DFT Interface

SCREENS:
MedixScan Mobile App

PROTOTYPE:
DFT Interface

PROTOTYPE:
MedixScan Mobile App

MedixScan Features

The following are features that have been integrated into MedixScan through the course of identifying pain points and communication gaps in the usage and purchase of OTC products.

These concepts were built with consideration to various stakeholders such as physicians, pharmacists, drug store employees, and a wide range of potential users (elder adults, students, etc.).

FEATURE 1:
Legibility

Problem: Some of the most common questions that pharmacists and pharmacy assistants receive is centred around issues in legibility.

FEATURE 2:
Language

Problem: Language barriers can greatly impact the usage of OTC drugs, applicable especially to those who struggle understanding English or French.

FEATURE 3:
Consistency

Problem: While DFT requirements are standardised, inconsistency in format & clarity is still a problem.

For example, this Advil label that you are only able to fully access upon purchase.

FEATURE 4:
Medical Information

Problem: Medical information databases, only accessible through Provincial Health authorities is difficult to implement into a design, due to the sensitive nature of the information being collected.

FEATURE 5:
Expiration Dates

Problem: The CDFT interface only displays an OTC product’s regulatory information. As expiration dates are implemented by manufacturers and based on external factors to the OTC product, it makes it difficult for a scan to include this information.

Participatory Design

MedixScan began with the goal of bridging communication gaps between healthcare professionals and patients about over the counter medication. In order to fully encompass a wide range of perspectives and design challenges, participatory co-design methods played a large role*.

Interviews

I led interviews with medical professionals such as doctors, and local pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to gather insights on some of the common questions they receive from patients/customers. This helped me gather a well rounded perspective on the gaps in communication that exists between healthcare professionals and patients. 

By involving a diverse range of stakeholders in the process of designing in a participatory manner, I was able to gather a well rounded perspective on the gaps in communication that exists between healthcare professionals and patients.

Feedback

Testing

With each iteration of my digital DFL interface, I made sure to test it with those around me. 
Usability testing allowed me to achieve the following:

Throughout all the testing phases of MedixScan, I asked participants to narrate their thoughts, opinions, and behaviors as I took notes alongside my discussions with them.

Testing Prototype #1

Testing Prototype #2

Testing Prototype #3

This created a great environment for me to learn through the behaviour of others and continue building my design to create better user experiences.

Personas

Based on the research I collected through the course of building MedixScan’s DFL interface, I collected a lot of user research on the needs and wants for a wide range of users. Moving away from the DFL interface, which was the very basis of MedixScan, I began begin building the mobile application of MedixScan based on the following personas:

These personas were created through all the information I personally collected paired alongside statistics and studies that I’d been referencing through the course of this project. This helped me gain a wide scope of the interface needs for the mobile application of MedixScan, and helped in the creation and implementation of specific features to meet these needs.

Branding

The branding for MedixScan began with looking at current medical & related companies, organisations and brands to gather some of the commonly used colours in the medical industry.

The most commonly used colours were:

BLUE

RED

YELLOW

GREEN

I used this to rule out colours for MedixScan, mainly blue & red as they are some of the most frequently used colours for existing packaging and using these colours did not serve my concept for MedixScan well as it may be confusing when scanning packaging.

Colours:

The colours that represent MedixScan are:

Orange

#FDE6D6

#F6A461

Orange can be attributed to health and vitality due to its association with the fruit of the same name, and in design contexts it draws attention without being as overwhelming/strong as the colour red. 

Teal

#C9E5E1

#18AA99

Teal is a combination of the blues and greens often seen in healthcare design and maintains a neutral connotation in its applications while also being a colour that promotes health and wellness.

These colour decisions were very important in the context of MedixScan; as explained above, the usage of colour throughout MedixScan is deliberate and intended to guide users rather than to add to the design’s aesthetics.

Web Accessibility Guidelines:


References

Overuse and Misperceptions of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs in the United States.

Cryer B, Barnett MA, Wagner J, Wilcox CM.
Am J Med Sci. 2016 Nov;352(5):472-480. doi: 10.1016/j.amjms.2016.08.028. Epub 2016 Sep 21. PMID: 27865294.

Experimental study on legibility of typographic information of ventilator interface January

Jiang Shao, Ketong Yan, Ke Liu, Chengqi Xue
2022International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 87(19):103249 DOI:10.1016/j.ergon.2021.103249

Guidance Document: Drug Facts Table for Non-prescription Drugs

Government of Canada
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/public-involvement-consultations/natural-health-products/guidance-document-drug-facts-table-non-prescription-drugs.html#a111

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Review | OTC Monograph Reform in the CARES Act

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
https://www.fda.gov/drugs/over-counter-otc-nonprescription-drugs/over-counter-otc-drug-review-otc-monograph-reform-cares-act

Do particular design features assist people with aphasia to comprehend text? An exploratory study.

Wilson L, Read J.
Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2016 May;51(3):346-54. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12206. Epub 2015 Nov 27. PMID: 26611362.

Text legibility and the letter superiority effect.

Sheedy JE, Subbaram MV, Zimmerman AB, Hayes JR.
Hum Factors. 2005 Winter;47(4):797-815. doi: 10.1518/001872005775570998. PMID: 16553067.

The Effectiveness of Nonprescription Drug Labels in the United States: Insights from Recent Research and Opportunities for the Future.

Catlin JR, Brass EP.
Pharmacy (Basel). 2018 Oct 26;6(4):119. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy6040119. PMID: 30373134; PMCID: PMC6306891.

Labelling requirements for non-prescription drugs guidance document

Government of Canada
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/natural-non-prescription/legislation-guidelines/guidance-documents/labelling-requirements-non-prescription-drugs.html

Neharika Sidda

I'm seeking opportunities
Contact Me

Hello!

I’m Neharika, a product designer with a passion for collaborative, visually appealing, and research based UX and UI design.

MedixScan is an example of the collaborative creation I strive for within my career as I continue building inclusive experiences. I am always excited to explore more directions in UX, and am looking forward to working within interdisciplinary environments that allow me to do so.

I hope you find something in my work that resonates with you!