pharmalarm + redesign

Role: User experience, research, prototyping, user interface design
Duration: 5 weeks
Client: School project
Tools: Adobe Illustrator, XD, Photoshop


01 . overview

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that poor medication adherence is considered a worldwide problem in the treatment of chronic diseases. Adherence to medication refers to taking prescribed pharmaceuticals as they are intended. Poor adherence negatively impacts the effectiveness of long term treatments and health economics. This leads to an increase in healthcare costs and hospitalizations. 

PharmAlarm was a team project designed for a health-centred hackathon, The Great Hatch. It is a mobile application intended to make medication adherence easier and more accessible. The application is designed to track medication by reading prescription medication labels using text recognition software to seamlessly create reminders into a user's smartphone.

02 . challenge

The hackathon was only 24 hours and we were unable to do much user research due to the time constraints. I felt that the design was lacking user testing and feedback. For my school project, I wanted to tackle a redesign as I wanted to conduct more research in order to make user based design decisions. 

03 . initial design


  1. splash screen
  2. push notification + tracking feature
  3. prescription reading + reminder creation
  4. info tab

Our target demographic for this design was for a user who would be taking more than 1 prescription medications per day for a chronic illness. They may develop an acute condition which requires them to add another script onto an existing medication regime.

Although we had many ideas on what to include for the app, since we did not have a lot of time we decided to focus on the two main features.

  1. Text recognition software to read the prescription label and fill out a form.
  2. Push notification reminder.
04 . competitor analysis

There are currently a few existing solutions for medication adherence aids, including mobile apps with similar reminder functionality. 

  • Blister Packs which are containers with designated sealed compartments for medication to be taken at a particular time of day.
  • Dossetts which is a type of medication organizer designed to be filled with a weekly dosage of medication. 
  • Alarm Timers which is a programmable clock with up to 4 auto repeating daily alarms.
  • Mobile Reminder Apps which are reminders for your smartphone.

 Issues with these solutions

  1. Physical alarms are bulky and have a limited number of settings and customizations.
  2. Reminders need to be logged manually.
  3. Compliance packs (i.e blister packs) need to be requested by the user in advance.
  4. Compliance packaging take time to prepare.
  5. These devices are generally designed for chronic illnesses and acute conditions are not really accounted for.
  6. None of the mobile reminder apps contain pictures of the medication.
05 . user research

I conducted interviews and user testing sessions of the initial prototype with 8 individuals who were taking between 1-7 prescription medications. The interview questions detailed their current knowledge of medication adherence aids as well as any experiences with them.

Interview Findings

  • None of the interviewees set up blister packs with their pharmacy.
  • Half of the interviewees did not use any adherence aids and were unaware of any existing.
  • The other half who used adherence aids still had difficulty remembering to take their medication.
  • All users were open to the idea of having an app like PharmAlarm.

User Feedback 

  • Some UI aspects were not clear or visible enough. (i.e checkmarks, clickability) 
  • The impression of the app seemed too strong and evoke a sense of urgency in a negative way.
  • Weekly report of missed medications would be a good dataset for the user to look at in terms of reflection.
  • Daily overview of the current medications to be taken should be added for the user to look at every morning.
  • Real photo of the medication would be a useful visual.
06 . user persona
07 . redesign

logo refinement

Thinner lines on the alarm clock for a more modern look. Typography was changed from Futura to Avenir with a heavier weight for more emphasis and easier readability. 



The colours used have been changed to more whites/greys with a blue accent colour instead of red. This is to make the app seem more approachable and keep it looking modern and clean.


The app's main page has a greeting for a personalized touch.


The tracking has been changed from checkmarks to coloured dots for easier readability. The main page also summarizes missed medications.



The menu has been changed to a bottom slide out menu for a quick access, instead of the original hamburger menu on the top left corner. 

info tab

The info tab has been updated with a real photo of the medication. Additionally, users can also see how close they are to reaching a refill.

08 . feature additions

daily summary

A daily summary has been added for an easy to read overview of the day's medications.

refill reminder

The daily summary includes upcoming refills, along with any restrictions that may be set by the pharmacy (and provided on the prescription).

weekly report

A weekly report details missed doses and weekly statistics.

09 . special thanks

I'd like to extend my thanks to my fellow hackathon team members who contributed to the original idea and design of PharmAlarm.

Khashayar, Medicine
Margaret, Pharmacy
Rosanna, Interaction Design
Jake, Biomedical Engineering
Nauful, Software Engineering
Jordan, Computer Science
David, Software Engineering