What inspired you to redesign the prescription bottle?

November 11th, 2013

Deborah Adler

There were many factors that led to my decision to move forward with the redesign of the prescription bottle for my thesis. Originally, believe it or not, I was going to do my thesis on curly hair. I wanted to build a curly hair mecca, and link products to different ethnicity, cultures and curl types. Back in 2001, there wasn’t much out there in this area.  But then, September 11 came, and suddenly my curly hair idea seemed trivial to me. I wanted to do something that had more meaning, something that could make a difference in peoples lives. Earlier that summer, my grandmother had a minor medication error. She accidentally took my grandfathers medication. They had the same initials, H. Adler, and their packaging looked practically identical. As a granddaughter, I was concerned for the safety of my grandparents. But as a designer, I saw a problem that needed to be solved. By understanding my grandmas needs through research, empathy, and intuition, I was able to translate that need into a prescription packaging system.

How much did you know about the industry before starting your project and how much research did you do?

November 11th, 2013

Deborah Adler

I knew very little about the healthcare industry, other than the fact that my father, grandfather and uncle were all doctors, and my mom was a nurse. Growing up, I always admired and almost glorified their roles, and wanted to somehow emulate them. My grandmothers medication mix up is what led me to take a deeper dive into why these errors were happening, and what I can do to help prevent them. I started my research in her medicine cabinet. It’s there I discovered little problems that could lead to big consequences. I then looked to see if this was a common problem, and I scoured the internet and healthcare agencies to figure out if I was indeed on to something. I quickly realized my grandma was not alone in her confusion. Nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t take their medication properly. It could be anything from missing a dose, to misunderstanding a warning, to taking the wrong amount of pills. I learned that it is very difficult to capture many of these errors because people often don’t report them. I spent several months trying to prove my case, mostly to myself, and then to my MFA thesis panel. Other equally important areas I had to dive into and learn about were manufacturing the label and bottle, as well as how to make a business case to companies or government agencies that might be interested.

Did ClearRx system change much from your original masters thesis? If so, was that a challenge for you?

November 11th, 2013

Deborah Adler

I was happy that most of my original thinking and design was able to translate to a nationally available product. In the gemba, I discovered that traditional round pill bottles are difficult to read because you have to turn the bottle in a full circle, and information is not displayed in a logical manner. My thesis label was intuitive and had a strong hierarchy of information (the most important information at the top). I color coded my labels for each family member, and added grooves in the back to hold additional information about the medication. I am not an industrial designer by trade, so I rigged my prototypes together with plexi tubing and dollhouse materials, anything I could do to get my ideas across. I designed my thesis bottle to be D-shaped, with a front and a back panel, and a new cap. One of the biggest changes to my original system was the actual shape of the bottle. Target paired me with an industrial designer who developed the bottles upside down shape.

 

It was very important for me to stay grounded and always keep my eyes on the bigger picture, which was to get the product successfully into the market. When Target took me and my idea under its wings, it suddenly became much more than me. It was a total collaboration. It took a huge team to make ClearRx come to life. Anyone from pharmacists and technicians to marketing, training and legal teams. So many things had to go right and I am so grateful for every single contribution.

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