UX Study: MediTrack

Empowering nurses to track and understand their patient’s medication — A project for Advisory Board.

By Hayden Mills, Leslie Huang, and Kayla Cooper

Hospitals are conservative places. Even though medical professionals have to keep on the cutting edge of medicine, the same can’t be said for their technology. Clunky computer towers are commonplace, while modern computers and tablets still haven’t found their way into many hospitals.

How do you change the norms of the industry without being too radical? This is where a slow change design comes into play. We propose introducing a tablet into the nurse’s workflow. We designed for the first stage of implementation, where a nurse could keep track of their patients’ medication through the use of a tablet. Putting a tablet in a nurse’s hands through the execution of a simple, yet vital task would begin to establish the connection between their duties and this new technology. Over time, more of a nurse’s workflow could be moved to a tablet device, making it easier to stay on top of tasks during their shift.

In this case study, we focus on the first stage of implementation: tracking a patient’s medication through a simple tablet interface in the current medication administration workflow.

Our design goal — Creating a simple interface that’s easily scannable for a nurse trying to understand when their patient needs to be adminstered more medication.

Current Medication Administration Workflow

Our Design Process


Like any good project, we began immediately by contacting nurses we knew. From CNAs to RNs, our research had a common thread: nurses don’t have time to learn an entire new system and the size of current technology can be intrusive.

“The computer carts we use are cumbersome and large…they can interfere with our work when we are in the patients room.” — Colette M.

We asked nurses and hospital patrons how medications were currently being tracked — it was either pen and paper or on a whiteboard. A Pyxis machine ensures that medication is properly dispensed and the pharmacist is the one who checks for drug interactions. We did not find any pain points with this system. This process is all part of the EMAR — the electronic medication administration record.

This posed a problem. How do we take the simplicity of these tools and put them onto a device that doesn’t require a nurse to learn a new system? With that in mind, we aimed to put the already-efficient system on a tablet, while utilizing the power of a tablet in helpful, yet unobtrusive ways.

Hayden and Leslie talking to nurses on the phone.

Affinity Mapping

With research in mind, we determined what nurses want and what they need, in addition to what the hospital wants. Research indicated that they did not necessarily need a digitized version of medication tracking, but they would be open to it only if it proved some sort of benefit to their level of stress. We mapped this out with a diagram.


From interviewing five nurses and referring to our affinity map, we identified common factors. Our persona was informed by our research, combining common pain points and wants into someone who could realistically use our system.


By properly being informed of our user base, we set out to sketch ideas based on systems that nurses currently use. Our goal was to create a simple interface that would be easily scannable for a nurse trying to understand when their patient needs to be adminstered more medication.

Kayla tries out different ways of organizing information.

We went with a concept inspired by a current system used by nurses and a parking schedule redesign.

Exemplars courtesy of Boston Children’s Hospital and Nikki Sylianteng

Keeping in mind the requirements, we tried to incorporate the requested features from Advisory Board. Because we were keeping this simple, we had to understand how this would fit into the current hospital ecosystem. Since we learned that the pharmacist checks for interactions and medication dispensing is handled by the Pyxis machine, drug interactions would be outside the scope of our system. Barcodes are widely used in a hospital to check in anything, so a Bluetooth scanner would be likely to exist in the current system. Tablets, however, are new to the ecosystem.

Final rough sketch for our design.


To quickly test out our concept, we produced a wireframe to make sure the system was understandable. Since we were unable to meet with nurses in person, we tested out the concept on random people. The rationale was that if they understood the charting system, then a nurse already familiar with this system would understand it as well.

Hayden asks a student if he understands this charting system.

We identified two pain points that we hadn’t considered; we changed these in a second iteration.

We later identified that the yellow on-ramp and off-ramp bars that would warn the nurse of an impending medication were both unnecessary and confusing from user feedback.

Final Product

We realized nurses needed a way to understand the medication they were giving to their patient, therefore we also added in an informational screen where they could tap on a medication name and get vital information about it. Once again, this proved intuitive in a quick user test.

The final design would rely on the nurse scanning in a medication when administered, checking it off on the interface so they would know for future reference. The pharmacist would have control over updating the current drugs a patient is taking, so adding in a medication would not be necessary. While the final design is extremely simple, it effectively fits into the hospital’s ecosystem without demanding the nurse to learn any new skills while introducing them to the concept of a tablet assisting their workflow.

Keeping in mind that a real system would be used for multiple patients, we added a section that showed where a nurse could access them, but that was not further explored. We told the nurses we had worked with earlier about our concept and they were all very open to it.

Main screen allows the nurse to scan quickly which medications need to be administered.
Tapping on a medication name informs the nurse about the medication.

User Story

We took our persona — Alicia James — through a typical day in her work with MediTrack integrated into her workflow.


We feel as if we successfully created a product that would slowly change the environment in which a nurse works in. Their work would slowly migrate towards a tablet, eliminating the giant computer carts that prove to be cumbersome in their workspace. This project proved to be a challenge for our team because of how risky it was to design something so constrained in the nurse’s workflow. We are so used to formulating big ideas that something so small in scope was uncomfortable. Through extensive deliberation, we managed to create something that can be realistically used in a hospital setting.

The end!