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Designing effective medicine labels
for senior citizens in Hong Kong




Brian Kwok and Keith Tam

Information Design Lab
S...
The population is rapidly ageing in Hong Kong


              10
                                                         ...
Media reports on the existing medicine label design




Source: Age-friendly medicine label survey reported by Sik Sik Yuen
2010 age-friendly medicine label survey


Of the 569 senior respondents . . .
• 96% felt that the type sizes were too smal...
Main barriers of communication with older people in
the visual presentation of information (WHO)
• Font sizes on text mate...
Three types of medicine labels in Hong Kong



Hospital Authority                       Private clinics




Health Departm...
Hospital Authority medicine label from 1982 (still in current use)




     Precautions                                   ...
Information listed on the medicine label


1 Name of patient

2 Date of dispensing

3 Address of clinical hospital and nam...
Comparing medicine labels from different countries
Objectives


• Understand the daily lives of the elderly and observe how
  the local older patients take their medicines
•...
1                                   2
Legibility tests conducted by the   Redesigning medicine labels as
Information Desig...
1 Legibility tests by IDL




Variables tested
• Typefaces
• Type sizes
• Colours
• Information prioritisation
• Spatial o...
Seniors aged 60–84 at a community centre for seniors
Observations at the seniors’ homes


• Many do not know much about the medicine and its side effects
• Main concerns are d...
Information searching

12 participants were asked to
search for phrases on several
labels. Durations were recorded.     Se...
Prototype combinations development

This matrix was used to develop 18 prototype combinations based on
the interrelationsh...
Black and white prototypes: 1 Kai / 2 Song / 3 Hei

12 point                14 point                     16 point
Colour prototypes: 1 Kai / 2 Song / 3 Hei

Colour for dividing line   Colour for patient name   Colour for dosage
Prototype rating
Finding the best one amongst the prototypes
Prioritisation of information
Information chunking
Information chunking
Information organisation
Information organisation
Four types of information groupings and prioritisations

1   Patient information
2   Medical information
3   Precautions
4...
Typeface preferences




         字體            Kai
                       (calligraphic)
                                ...
Chinese versus Arabic numerals

Many Chinese numerals share similar strokes
and therefore less distinctive than Arabic
num...
Date formats




                              
4 / 12 / 2012   4–12–2012




                              
        ...
16pt for main information, others no smaller than 8pt


     Precautions                                        Quantity o...
Spatial arrangement



             Clinical Information   Patient Information

             Medicine Information   Precau...
More variables to be tested . . .


• Portrait versus landscape format

• Accommodating varied content

• Label sizes for ...
2 Student assignment




30 students from the Visual Communication
Design undergraduate programme
participated in the proj...
Student participation


• Started in November 2011
• Over a period of two semesters
• Higher diploma and degree students
•...
Test participants

More than 70 senior participants with chronic illnesses

70–85 years old

Three categories of participa...
Card sorting

To understand how the
elderly participants organise
information
儷黑 Pro 14pt
Typeface and type size testing                                                      Andale Mono 6pt




      ...
Symbol testing
Symbol testing
Colour testing
Label orientation testing
Students’ prototypes
Students’ prototypes
Students’ prototypes
Students’ prototypes
Students’ prototypes
Students’ prototypes
Damien Hirst   Image 2 caption
For more information, please visit
www.infodesignlab.org




Brian Kwok brian@infodesignlab.org
Keith Tam  keith@infodesig...
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Designing effective medicine labels for senior citizens in Hong Kong

Mistakes in medicine intake is common among older patients in Hong Kong. Some may lead to fatalities, particularly for older patients who live alone. These elderly patients have to struggle with the small print and poor information design often found on medicine labels. A two-year research project of redesigning medicine labels was launched in 2011 in response to the imminent need for improving medicine labels in public hospitals. The aim of the project is to decrease the number of errors related to medicine intake and to enhance active ageing in the local community through effective information design.

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Designing effective medicine labels for senior citizens in Hong Kong

  1. 1. Designing effective medicine labels for senior citizens in Hong Kong Brian Kwok and Keith Tam Information Design Lab School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University 13 April 2012 Information Design Conference · Greenwich, UK © Information Design Lab, Hong Kong Polytechnic University 2012
  2. 2. The population is rapidly ageing in Hong Kong 10 8.89 million 8 2,489,984 28% of total 7 million population Hong Kong 910,481 65 years and older population 6 13% of total (million) population 65 years and older 4 2 0 year 2009 2039 projected Source: Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong Population Projections 2010–2039
  3. 3. Media reports on the existing medicine label design Source: Age-friendly medicine label survey reported by Sik Sik Yuen
  4. 4. 2010 age-friendly medicine label survey Of the 569 senior respondents . . . • 96% felt that the type sizes were too small • 90% suggested that symbols could be used as reminders for times and dosages • 84% requested descriptions of drugs’ shapes and colours Source: Age-friendly medicine label survey reported by Sik Sik Yuen
  5. 5. Main barriers of communication with older people in the visual presentation of information (WHO) • Font sizes on text materials are too small to read • Medicine labels are hard to decipher • Page layouts are often confusing • Too much information in small spaces Global age-friendly cities guide, 2007, p.63
  6. 6. Three types of medicine labels in Hong Kong Hospital Authority Private clinics Health Department
  7. 7. Hospital Authority medicine label from 1982 (still in current use) Precautions Quantity of drug Name of drug Abbreviated drug name Dosage & method Precautions Name of patient Date of dispensing Name of clinic Codes for internal use
  8. 8. Information listed on the medicine label 1 Name of patient 2 Date of dispensing 3 Address of clinical hospital and name of doctor 4 Trade name or pharmacological name of drug 5 Dosage 6 Method of administration 7 Safety precautions .
  9. 9. Comparing medicine labels from different countries
  10. 10. Objectives • Understand the daily lives of the elderly and observe how the local older patients take their medicines • Identify the problems of existing labels on medicines distributed in Hong Kong’s public hospitals • Develop a patient-centered design approach by designing a new series of medicine labels • Explore new possibilities in label design for improving accessibility, comprehensibility and usability to the elderly .
  11. 11. 1 2 Legibility tests conducted by the Redesigning medicine labels as Information Design Lab an undergraduate class project
  12. 12. 1 Legibility tests by IDL Variables tested • Typefaces • Type sizes • Colours • Information prioritisation • Spatial organisation
  13. 13. Seniors aged 60–84 at a community centre for seniors
  14. 14. Observations at the seniors’ homes • Many do not know much about the medicine and its side effects • Main concerns are dosage and method of administration • Mostly rely on memory instead of reading the label • Precautions and expiry dates are easily overlooked • Many reorganised their medicine in their own ways • Many recognise medicine by shape and colour of containers • Many preserve leftover medicine in refrigerator
  15. 15. Information searching 12 participants were asked to search for phrases on several labels. Durations were recorded. Search phrases B&W Colour t Expired date Name of hospital Method of administration Dosages 7A1 Quantity of drug Precautions Name of patient Functions of drug 5A3
  16. 16. Prototype combinations development This matrix was used to develop 18 prototype combinations based on the interrelationships between colour, type size, typeface and leading
  17. 17. Black and white prototypes: 1 Kai / 2 Song / 3 Hei 12 point 14 point 16 point
  18. 18. Colour prototypes: 1 Kai / 2 Song / 3 Hei Colour for dividing line Colour for patient name Colour for dosage
  19. 19. Prototype rating
  20. 20. Finding the best one amongst the prototypes
  21. 21. Prioritisation of information
  22. 22. Information chunking
  23. 23. Information chunking
  24. 24. Information organisation
  25. 25. Information organisation
  26. 26. Four types of information groupings and prioritisations 1 Patient information 2 Medical information 3 Precautions 4 Clinical information
  27. 27. Typeface preferences 字體 Kai (calligraphic) 75.4% 字體 Song (seriffed) 80.7% 字體 Hei (sanserif) 82.0% ✔
  28. 28. Chinese versus Arabic numerals Many Chinese numerals share similar strokes and therefore less distinctive than Arabic numerals at a glance 一 二 三 五 六 1 2 3 5 6 每日三次,每次一粒 每日3次,每次1粒 (3 times a day, one pill each time) ✔
  29. 29. Date formats    4 / 12 / 2012 4–12–2012   Both British and American date formats are used in Hong Kong 12 / 4 / 2012 12–4–2012 2012 / 4 / 12 二零⼀一二年四月十二日 2012 年 4 月 12 日 ✔
  30. 30. 16pt for main information, others no smaller than 8pt Precautions Quantity of drug Name of drug Abbreviated drug name Dosage & method Precautions Name of patient Date of dispensing Name of clinic Codes for internal use
  31. 31. Spatial arrangement Clinical Information Patient Information Medicine Information Precautions
  32. 32. More variables to be tested . . . • Portrait versus landscape format • Accommodating varied content • Label sizes for various types of medicine containers • Test for other stakeholders .
  33. 33. 2 Student assignment 30 students from the Visual Communication Design undergraduate programme participated in the project
  34. 34. Student participation • Started in November 2011 • Over a period of two semesters • Higher diploma and degree students • 80 design students participated • 75 user tests in total
  35. 35. Test participants More than 70 senior participants with chronic illnesses 70–85 years old Three categories of participants • Normal eye sight • Little to no education • Visually impaired
  36. 36. Card sorting To understand how the elderly participants organise information
  37. 37. 儷黑 Pro 14pt Typeface and type size testing Andale Mono 6pt 儷黑 Pro 8pt 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 14pt Andale Mono 6pt 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷黑 Pro 14pt 儷黑 Pro 11pt 儷黑 Pro 7pt 儷黑 Pro 8pt 儷黑 Pro 15pt 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷黑 Pro 11pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 11pt 儷黑 Pro 7pt 儷黑 Pro 8pt 儷黑 Pro 11pt Andale Mono 7pt儷黑 Pro 15pt 儷黑 Pro 7pt 儷黑 Pro 15pt 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷黑 Pro 15pt 儷黑 Pro 1pt 儷黑 Pro 11pt 儷黑 Pro 11pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 10pt 儷黑 Pro 8pt 儷 Andale Mono 7pt 儷黑 Pro 8pt Andale Mono 7pt 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷 儷黑 Pro 12pt 儷黑 Pro 1pt
  38. 38. Symbol testing
  39. 39. Symbol testing
  40. 40. Colour testing
  41. 41. Label orientation testing
  42. 42. Students’ prototypes
  43. 43. Students’ prototypes
  44. 44. Students’ prototypes
  45. 45. Students’ prototypes
  46. 46. Students’ prototypes
  47. 47. Students’ prototypes
  48. 48. Damien Hirst Image 2 caption
  49. 49. For more information, please visit www.infodesignlab.org Brian Kwok brian@infodesignlab.org Keith Tam keith@infodesignlab.org www.infodesignlab.org @infodesignlab © Information Design Lab, Hong Kong Polytechnic University 2012
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Mistakes in medicine intake is common among older patients in Hong Kong. Some may lead to fatalities, particularly for older patients who live alone. These elderly patients have to struggle with the small print and poor information design often found on medicine labels. A two-year research project of redesigning medicine labels was launched in 2011 in response to the imminent need for improving medicine labels in public hospitals. The aim of the project is to decrease the number of errors related to medicine intake and to enhance active ageing in the local community through effective information design.

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