Over the last nine months, WellChild has been working on a fantastic new phone app with support from Comic Relief’s ‘Tech For Good’ programme. Today, on Red Nose Day, we would like to tell you how things have been going on the road to creating this new digital tool which will help parents and carers manage their children’s medicine routines.
The idea of the new app is to build on the success of Medicines For Children – an incredibly useful website for parents and carers which provides independently endorsed information and instructional videos on medicines and their administration.
In order to create this new tool we have been working in partnership with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH),the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG) and Manchester-based social tech agency, Reason Digital. Meanwhile, WellChild’s families have given priceless insight into how they manage their routines and medicines at home while caring for children with complex health conditions.
The work on the new app is going really well and we thank Comic Relief, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technolocgy (CAST) for their funding and support in making this project a reality.
Here’s a look at how the work has been going so far:
July 2018 – Funding secured
There was great excitement as we secured funding from Comic Relief and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation via the ‘Tech for Good’ programme, which meant our idea was on the road to becoming a reality. WellChild held initial meetings with the Medicines for Children team, and our digital partner, Reason Digital. We held a three day ‘design sprint’ in Manchester with Reason Digital, parents and carers, WellChild Nurses, paediatricians and pharmacists and decided to focus the first few months of the nine month programme on really understanding the challenges surrounding medicines management and how technology could help.
August 2018 – Understanding the problem
Our research was underway, working with parents of children with complex medical needs or chronic health conditions who required regular medicines. Our goal was to understand the processes they follow to ensure accurate recording and administration of medicines to their child. We also needed to learn about the ‘tools’ families were currently using to keep track of complex medicines such as diaries, whiteboards, spreadsheets and special tablet containers.
A survey helped us learn more about how parents and carers manage medicines at home. 225 people responded, sharing in-depth experiences of how they manage complicated regimes at home, and how they use technology in their daily lives. A select group of these parents also completed WhatsApp diaries documenting all aspects of caring for their child.
September 2018 – The professional perspective
Even though the app’s main focus is on the needs of parents and carers, it was vital to involve healthcare professionals such as nurses, clinicians and pharmacists early on in the development, so we held two engagement events at the RCPCH London Office. At these events the app team explained the background to the medicines management app, and discussed the initial feedback we had received from parents and carers. We want to ensure that the app is one which healthcare professionals can engage with and hopefully endorse in their future clinical practice.
October 2018 to February 2019 – Development sprints
Findings from our research were used to identify the key priorities for the new app. Throughout Autumn and Winter, Reason Digital undertook a series of development sprints with their app development team. In these high energy and intense sprint phases, the team worked hard to assimilate all of the research undertaken with parents and carers and with nurses, doctors and pharmacists. The big challenge was in prioritising what features and functionality we should focus on for this first phase of the product.
March 2019 – Almost there!
The first draft of the app is now almost ready to be launched and tested by a select group of parents and families. Whilst it will be a basic product with lots of testing required, it will be able to carry out some of the top priority functions which parents and carers identified as most important. It also gives us a platform that we can build on before launching to the wider public.
Thanks to Comic Relief and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we have been able to turn our idea into reality. We are excited to be working on a new tool we know will be of great benefit to families who need our support!