Prescription labels are not accessible to everyone. Confusing the dosage, frequency, and timing of prescription drugs can result in unnecessary expenditure of resources, increased morbidity, and ultimately patient fatality. Current solutions are too expensive, bulky, or cumbersome to use.

There are more than 285 million visually impaired people around the world. While the idea was motivated by concern for blind and visually impaired patients, it has high potential for application to wider audiences. According to a study performed at University of College London, a third of the elderly population (age 65 and older) is in danger of premature death due to misunderstanding medicine labels. A study of low-income patients carried out at Northwestern University showed that nearly half of even visually able participants misinterpreted at least 1 out of 5 prescriptions labels presented. With the disparate education and literacy levels across the world, Pharmassist has the potential to improve the lives of billions of people.

What it does

Pharmassist takes advantage of using low-cost conductive ink to print distinct patterns onto labels, which can be placed directly onto pill bottles. These patterns simulate multi-touch inputs and, in combination with our smartphone application, can be recognized to identify and access a patient’s specific prescription information, which will be presented audibly. Additional capabilities include being able to track a patient’s usage and offer on-demand services, such as options to refill prescriptions, request side effect information, and directly contact their pharmacist.

How we built it

The Pharmassist smartphone application was built using Java and Android Studio. We used conductive copper tape in place of conductive ink in the development of our prototypes. By using the tape to create different patterns on the bottoms of pill bottles, we were able to simulate recognizable touch patterns that could be identified by our application and used to relay specific prescription information.

What's next for Pharmassist

With the advancement of mobile phone technology and the enhancement of multi-touch resolution, there will be endless possible conductive ink patterns for prescription drug labeling. Evolution of the mobile application will include features to increase patient interaction, lower noncompliance rates, and incentivize patients to follow their healthcare providers' instructions.

Moving forward, we would like to optimize and construct a conductive ink label as a final product. In addition, we would like to integrate voice recognition for direct interactions and multilingual capabilities for increased accessibility and global application. Ultimately, we would like to introduce our product to overseas markets to significantly improve prescription label accessibility to patients worldwide.

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