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U-Med

Master Thesis | Individual | 10 Weeks | Spring, 2022 | Malmö University

U-Med (Unused Medications) is a circular model to reduce medication waste in Turkey. It is structured around dialogue-based interactions with a mobile application and reverse vending machines (RVMs). The system has several stakeholders that contribute to the system and gain rewards from their actions along with humanistic incentives such as altruism. 

This project received the Leapfrogs scholarship from Lund University in 2023.

Keywords

Reusing, recycling, circular model, medication waste

Stakeholder

A Health Center in Istanbul, Turkey

My Role

Design research, concept development, prototyping, usability testing, UX/UI design

Challenge

Understanding medicine usage behaviours and encouraging individuals in Turkish society to share their unused and unexpired medicines, and health professionals to prescribe these medicines to people in need to decrease medication waste.

71%

throw their meds away in the bins

43%

wonders how to properly dispose unused meds

Questionnarie in Turkey | 2022

71%

would use unused and donated meds if they have chronic disease

60%

who wouldn't prefer using unused and donated meds would prefer taking the donated unused meds from their doctors

Design Process

In this project the medication usage behaviours of patients and the notions of health professionals and patients towards sharing and disposing of medications were explored with a user-centred design and participatory design approaches, to prevent increasing medication waste and suggest a more sustainable system which has positive impacts on both the environment and the society in Turkey.

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Exploration

Exploration

To understand the medication usage both in Turkey and around the globe several design research methods were conducted.

  • Research
    Literature research and benchmark

  • Observation
    Health centre in Sarıyer, Istanbul

  • Face-to-Face & Semi-Structured Interviews
    5 patients, 3 doctors, 3 nurses and
    5 pharmacists, health director in the municipality of Sarıyer, Istanbul.

  • Remote Interviews
    A non-profit organisation in Greece called GIVMED that has similar concerns about medication waste.

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  • Questionnaire
    Among 88 Turkish citizens

Synthesis

Synthesis

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To make sense of the gathered information throughout the exploration phase the affinity diagramming method had been applied. The insights were summarised into 10 main insights:

  • Altruism

  • Trust

  • Alternative Use

  • Applied Practice

  • Storage

  • Sense of Community

  • Incentives

  • Monitoring

  • Quick Disposal

  • Legislation

"I use leftover kidney medications for my flowers."
Doctor

"I've had medications in my drawer for well over a decade, and I'm certain I still have some unexpired leftover painkillers from my previous prescription, despite recently acquiring a new one. I would like to donate, if I could."
Patient

"If we ever think of reusing leftover medications on patients, we must monitor them!"

Doctor

"We've sent leftover medications, including expired ones, to war zones where they are crucially needed by those in desperate circumstances." 
Nurse

Concept

Concept

During the ideation and concept phase in order to generate ideas and discuss the possible obstacles several ideation methods were used:

 

  • Informal brainstorming workshops

  • Flow diagrams

  • Circular Designs Ideation Pack from the Use2Use design toolkit

Final Design

U-Med is a non-profit platform where Turkish citizens can give their leftover medications which are either expired, unexpired, opened or unopened. After the examinations, the people need access the safe medications. The other medications are either sent to be disposed of or to be used in other industries. Users are encouraged to take part in the system with the points assigned to them after each contribution. This concept includes:
 

  • A mobile application

  • Reverse vending machines (RVMs)

  • Individuals with leftover medications, patients, doctors, pharmacists, pharmaceutical factories,  veterinarians, animals, incineration and irrigation factories and plants

U-MED MODEL_edited.jpg
Prototype & test
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Prototyping & Test

In order to test the concept, the following prototyping and testing methods were used:

  • Information Architecture

  • Wireframes

  • UX/UI Design
    Interfaces of both the mobile application and the RVM designed on Figma

  • Physical Prototype
    RVM's body was built with mock-up cardboard, paper plate and paper

  • Usability Test & Wizard of Oz
    Digital prototypes along with the physical prototype of RVM were tested by 5 users who come from different cultural backgrounds. Based on the insights from the usability tests, the rationalisation of the high-level navigation structure was visualised on a diagram.

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