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Making medication management less medical

Creating conversational UI to help patient manage multiple medications with reminders and empathy.

Setting - Final Capstone for Masters in HCI & Design Class

4-person team designing conversational UIs during six month final capstone project to make complex medication management simpler through modular conversation pieces.  We implemented conversations on a wellness companion (think robot), Mabu.

The Challenge

Research and design conversational user interfaces to help patient manage multiple medications.  Key pain points included addressing complex medication routines and personalization e.g. one patient calls her aspirin "81 pill."

The Outcome

We created 11 different conversational user interfaces assisting patients in four key areas: 1) onboarding medications. 2) checking on medication adherence. 3) setting up medication groups. and 4) setting up meal reminders.  In final implementation, we accomplished having the same amount of conversational text and duration to manage multiple medications versus singular medication.  Simplicity out of complexity reduces clutter.


Empathize with the User

We surveyed 75+ patients asking about their medication routines, medication storage, and attitudes towards technologies used to aid their medication routines.  Patients hesitated including technology into their daily life, calling it "this unknown equipment."  Typically, patients used pill boxes and would personally recall by time.  However, when we asked "What happened?" when patients missed their does they would state “I forgot.”  We wanted to change build a conversational system that would prevent the forgetting.

  User Survey  - Example showing one of the questions we asked patients.

User Survey - Example showing one of the questions we asked patients.

  Technology or not?  - Example showing one of the questions for medication routine research.

Technology or not? - Example showing one of the questions for medication routine research.

  Personas   - Casey, one of our personas, represents patients who like to be informed about latest medical research and takes 15+ medications to manage their health

Personas  - Casey, one of our personas, represents patients who like to be informed about latest medical research and takes 15+ medications to manage their health

Define the Solution

We created conversational UIs that addressed four key areas including: on-boarding medications, checking on medication adherence, setting up medication groups, and setting up meal reminders.  We used Twine and Mural.ly to represent the different conversation paths.  We wrote sample text with detailed patient information to help us build empathy when we were designing the interaction structure.  These stories helped us make the abstract conversational structure more concrete. 

  Conversational design  - We used Twine, an open source platform for conversational design, to create and test our modular conversations.

Conversational design - We used Twine, an open source platform for conversational design, to create and test our modular conversations.

  Conversational design -  Example snippet showing detailed patient conversation text.

Conversational design - Example snippet showing detailed patient conversation text.

Build, Test & Iterate

Over the next four months, we iterated on our conversations by interviewing 2-3 patients every week and making small changes with great impact.  Our original four conversations led up to eleven distinct conversations as we found smaller modularized conversation pieces worked better by allowing for greater flexibility and ease in communication.  For example, we created a separate meal reminder conversation instead of adding it to existing structures.  We finalized the conversations and implemented them inside Mabu.  

  Conversational Design  - When eating medication before or after food, some patients would lessen their side effects, but like with medications, wanted to be reminded. 

Conversational Design - When eating medication before or after food, some patients would lessen their side effects, but like with medications, wanted to be reminded. 

  Finale  - There's something amazing in seeing your hard work get translated into product.  She's here!

Finale - There's something amazing in seeing your hard work get translated into product.  She's here!