Keeping track of meds is hard. In the U.S., there is a markedly low adherence to refilling and taking prescriptions; in fact, nearly 50% of people taking a chronic medication stop taking it within the first year, with the biggest drop-off occurring in the first month. Additionally, prescription drugs are highly susceptible to abuse by non-prescribed users who have access to the medication, with 52 million people reporting that they have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons at least once in their lifetimes. Finally, many people manage prescriptions for others, namely elderly people and people with impaired memory. Ensuring that the other person has taken the correct dosage every day can be a major challenge.

Scriply is combatting the biggest issues related to prescription drugs by allowing users full insight and control over their prescription regimens through an intuitive app and multi-user dispenser.

How it works

The Scriply app allows its user to set the weekly medication regimen for themselves and any other individuals in their care. Based on this information, the dispenser will combine and release the formulation of pills that individuals needs on demand. Data on dispenses is then sent to the app for the user to be able to monitor activity.

The system is designed to make prescription management seamless and intuitive by integrating additional features such as optional reminders, notifications when prescriptions need to be refilled, and the ability to order prescription refills in-app.

This competes with similar products on the market because current offerings require users to physically input every drug combination for every dispense, can't dispense liquid medication, don't allow for activity monitoring, only serve one individual per machine, don't allow for freedom in reminders, and, quite frankly, aren't very visually appealing. Scriply addresses all of these issues, and does so on a clean, user-friendly interface.

How we built it

Understanding that managing prescriptions is nobody's favorite pastime, Scriply's system was designed to require as few interactions as possible while relaying an extremely high level of actionable information to the user. Accordingly, we designed our iOS app to be straightforward, bright, and intuitive. This app connects directly to the dispenser, and can prompt the dispenser to release any combination of pills on demand.

The dispenser can release two types of medication: pills and liquid medicine. It functions by rotating juxtaposed disks that select and accept a single serving of meds and dispenses them down a shoot. The majority of its components were 3D printed using CAD. Our team built the underlying mechanics on Arduino and subsequently developed a platform to connect the Arduino system to a Node.js server.

Challenges we ran into

The biggest technical challenge that we faced was that the 3D printing process took longer than we had anticipated, which caused us to have to readjust our design schedule on multiple occasions. The team concluded that had the designs been more space-efficient, much printing time could have been saved.

A second major challenge arose from developing the app's logic. Because prescription drug management conflates an array of different factors, our team put much more time than we had expected we would into theorizing on the different scenarios and possible troubleshooting issues that might arise for the user, and continuously found ourselves confronted with holes in the experience that needed to be patched up.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Overall, our team managed to create a viable proof of concept for a product that could facilitate the lives of many individuals who deal with difficulties related to prescription drugs. The system integrated both software and hardware to perform a task that is relatively nuanced for what can be built in 36 hours, and the team learned much in doing so.

What we learned

The multi-faceted nature of this project allowed our team to gain exposure to a wide range of problem-solving opportunities. Firstly, this project was an exercise in teamwork wherein every member of our team was made to contribute their expertise to an overarching concept. This meant that we had to harmonize our skillsets and abilities, and determine how any lapses in knowledge would be addressed– sometimes this meant having to rapidly learn a new technical skill, and others it meant overcoming a fear of talking to strangers. Secondly, this project was this team's first full immersion into design thinking. We attempted to address every problem we encountered with a user-centric answer, employing our sense of empathy with the end user. Finally, we were able to garner a deeper sense of issues related to prescription medication use. These issues aren't very visible in society, but many individuals struggle with at least one of the problems that we identified, and we believe that were made much more cognizant for it.

What's next for Scriply

Due to the time constraint, the app and dispenser were built to the point of proof of concept, but not to their full functionality. As we Scriply moves forward, we are aiming to build out the app's back-end to meet its current front-end framework, incorporating a prescription database for users to have a menu of drugs to choose from and embedding the prescription refill feature, as well as refine the dispenser's physical design to be more aesthetically appealing to match the user experience on the app.

Personally, we will continue to further our awareness into issues stemming from prescription medications and seek out innovative and integrated solutions.

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