Ergonomically designed pill bottle

I recently read an article titled “THE NEXT GENERATION PILL BOTTLE: AN ERGONOMICS APPLICATION OF PATIENT-CENTERED DESIGN METHODOLOGY; Beril Behruz, Jackie Herriage, Yalda Khashe, Yixin Luo, Jae Kim, Mansour Rahimi; Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California”…/SHS/SHS…/Behruzb_SHS2012paper.doc

This was a very interesting article on redesigning the common pill bottle for easier use, especially among elderly patients.  I think everyone, not just the elderly, can attest to the problems with the current pill bottles:  small font is difficult to read, caps are hard to unscrew, warnings and drug interactions are on a separate piece of paper, pill bottles all look the same, etc.  This can result in mix-ups when taking medication, taking expired medications, and taking medications at the wrong time.

The redesigned bottle looks great.  It has:

  • Three sides which makes it easier to grip and easier to read (by panel not circling around);
  • Font is bigger and clearer making it easier to read;
  • Warnings and drug interactions are right on the bottle;
  • A picture of the medication, a description, and a picture of what organ the medication is for;
  • The name of the medication on all three sides to reduce errors in taking the wrong medication;
  • A calendar for tracking medication;
  • A colour coded band to indicate frequency of medication;
  • A side pocket with supplementary information;
  • A flip top for easier opening and one hand use;
  • Blue highlighting instead of yellow for easier reading.

The design still needs to be evaluated to make sure it is user friendly.  The team will use:

  • Time measurement studies to determine the speed at which patients find the information;
  • User surveys and eye tracking studies to evaluate how easy it is to read and how clear it is;
  • Data collection in field studies to see if errors are reduced;
  • Customer satisfaction surveys to see how much frustration or confusion the patient feels;
  • Another look at providing child proofing for the lids so the new design can be adopted.

I have no doubt that this new design will be an improvement on the current prescription pill bottle.  This is a great example of “fitting the task to the person, not the person to the task”.  With these improvements, patients will be able to take their medication with less confusion, less errors, less physical strength, and more confidence and safety.  A truly “ergonomically designed” product!


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