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5 January, 2017 - 14:02 By Kate Sweeney

Avatar talks patients through use of medical devices

AudioPack Cambridge Consultants

An avatar called Ana talks patients through the effective use of medical devices such as injectors thanks to breakthrough technology from Cambridge Consultants.

Its smart packaging invention, branded AudioPack, is being demonstrated at the CES 2017 expo in Las Vegas this week. 

The rationale behind the new tech is that instruction leaflets are confusing at the best of times. However they could also be a matter of life and death if you’ve just been diagnosed with a chronic disease and suddenly need to learn fast how to inject yourself with vital medication.

AudioPack augments the usual instructions for use with audio messages that are triggered by touch-sensitive paper packaging. The aim is to give patients extra guidance and support to help overcome their initial fears of starting a new treatment. The ‘talking’ packaging is designed to help them through those first few weeks.

Poorly understood instructions can lead to drugs being misused and treatment being less effective – putting a patient’s health in danger. This is particularly true when a patient has been newly diagnosed with a chronic condition such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.

“From our extensive interviews with patients learning to use various medical devices with packaging and instruction leaflets, we know that traditional instructions can be difficult to read and learn from – often, a patient doesn’t even know where to start,” said Adam Haynes, a senior industrial designer at Cambridge Consultants.

“Our deep expertise in industrial design and human factors gives us the perfect insight to create a packaging system that is more intuitive and much less intimidating for patients. Our goal with AudioPack is to transform medical treatment through user-friendly, approachable design – ultimately improving effectiveness and benefiting the whole healthcare ecosystem.”

With AudioPack, instructions are delivered by an avatar named Ana, who guides the patient through step-by-step use of their new medical device – an injector, for example.

The intuitive design aims to simplify the treatment process for less tech-savvy users or patients with cognitive issues caused by their disease. 
As well as improving the patient experience, AudioPack can help cut clinical costs – reducing the time doctors and nurses need to spend instructing patients on their new medications.

Beyond disease management, smart medical packaging could be used as a training tool for healthcare staff. It also has the potential to reduce errors and anxiety when a device is required for use in an emergency situation. 

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