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Medicines for Children app: Version 1 ready for testing
Background - why did we need an app?
Since the Medicines for Children’s website launched over a decade ago, we have received many requests for additional support to help parents manage their child's medicines. More recently our user base, which now numbers over 3 million people, have been asking for a mobile app to build on the information provided by the main wesbsite, but to offer a more personalised service with additional features that goes beyond what the website can provide.
- Over the last ten months, the Medicines for Children team have been working on a mobile app with support from Comic Relief and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation ‘Tech For Good’ programme.
- The idea of the new app is to build on the success of the Medicines For Children website which provides parents and carers with independently endorsed information and instructional videos on paediatric medicines and their administration.
- In order to create this new tool the three project partners, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), and the children’s charity WellChild, have been working with Manchester-based social tech agency, Reason Digital.
- In addition, WellChild families have worked alongside us throughout the process to provide priceless insights into how they manage their routines and medicines at home while caring for children with complex health conditions.
- During the development process over 200 families were consulted and fed into the app – sharing their priorities, their experiences and their views of how an app could help in their daily medicines’ management routine.
May 2019 update
We are pleased to announce that ‘Version 1’ of our new digital tool, which will help parents to manage their children’s medicines, is now ready for stress-testing by a select group of parents and families from our charity partner WellChild. We will be offering healthcare professionals a preview of the app at this week’s RCPCH annual conference in Birmingham (13th-15th May). Please get in touch if you would like more information about the app or follow us on twitter for updates @MedsForChildren
The intensive testing by WellChild parents is scheduled to last several months to ensure the app functions as predicted and suits family’s needs. Whilst Version 1 of the app is somewhat limited in scope, there are many more features in the pipeline which will be developed once the current key-priority functions have been stress-tested. The app features which we have focused on for Version 1 were identified by parents and carers as the most important priorities for them. Following the testing phase, the app will be updated and then launched to the wider public, with plans to build greater functionality into the app by the end of 2019.
Thanks to Comic Relief and ‘Tech for Good’, we have been able to turn our idea into reality. We are excited to have produced a new digital tool we know will be of great benefit to families who need our support.
App development timeline
Version 1 of the app (the 'Minimum Viable Product') is in the final stages of development before user testing. If you are interested in being involved with this tesing, or if you have any questions about the app development so far, please get in touch with the team: Medicines.Leaflets@rcpch.ac.uk
December 2018 - February 2019
A series of 'design sprints' took place with the app development team at Reason Digital. During this time, they assimilated all of the research that was undertaken with parents and carers (over 200 people) and the work with nurses, doctors and pharmacists.
In the recorded presentation below, Rachel from Reason Digital summarises the work that has gone into the Medicines for Children app since the process began in July 2018.
She covers the early planning stages, the discovery phase with parents and families, and recent research working with WellChild nurses and paediatricians and pharmacists linked to the RCPCH.
(NB. Please excuse the poor sound quality from around half way through the recorded.)
- The app development team of Reason Digital, WellChild and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), held two engagement events for healthcare professionals at the RCPCH London Office on the 5th and 6th September.
- At these events the team provided background to the plans for the medicines management app, and discussed the initial feedback we had received from parents and carers.
- These events with nurses, clinicians and pharmacists were important because, even though the app's main focus is on the needs of parents/carers, it is vital to involve healthcare professionals early on in the development of any medical apps. This will help to ensure that the end product is one that healthcare professionals can engage with and hopefully endorse in their future clinical practice.
- The app was in its research phase where we were seeking the input of parents of children with complex medical needs or chronic health conditions who required regular medicines.
- We worked with families to get a better understanding of the processes they follow to ensure accurate recording and administering of daily medicines to their child.
- We are also interested in learning about any ‘tools’ they currently used to help keep track of administering complex medication such as a diary, a whiteboard, special containers etc and we welcomed photos and comments about these tools.
- We conducted a survey (8th-17th August) to learn more about how parents/carers manage medicines at home.
- We had an excellent response to this survey with over 220 parents and carers sharing their experiences of how they manage complicated regimes at home, and how technology could help in their daily lives.
- The wider picture gathered from this survey, using the general trends, will be used to inform our future work and provide evidence for the need for new solutions for parents/carers to manage their child's medication.
- Funding received from Comic Relief and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for the 9-month 'Tech for Good' programme.
- Initial meetings took place between the Medicines for Children team, WellChild and our digital partner, Reason Digital.
- Following a design sprint in Manchester with Reason Digital and parents/carers, paediatricians and pharmacists, and early meetings with Comic Relief, it was decided that the first few months of the 9-month programme are to be spent consulting with parents and carers of children who require regular medication to see how technology could help in their daily lives.