Case Study: Improving the mobile application experience for primary users of the Tricella Smart Pillbox

Tricella Smart Pillbox

The Problem


How to empower users to practice better medical adherence habits in regards to their prescriptions and supplements?

The Brief


Conduct usability studies with the app and solicit feedback from would be users and caregivers. Identity common pain points that can be opportunities.



The Solution


Provide a user experience with the Tricella mobile application which is simple,consistent, and health-focused. The experience needs to build support and motivation for primary users.



Research and Discovery
Contextual Inquiry
User Surveys
User Interviews

Visits to hospital waiting rooms, pharmacies, vitamin stores and supplement shops

Survey questions spanning topics related to medical adherence habits, influences, motivators and pain points

Face to face interviews were held with potential users to inquire about their current medical adherence habits, pain points and motivators

Other medical adherence apps in the marketplace along with lifestyle apps which serve to motivate healthier lifestyle habits

4 Visits
28 Responses
8 Interviews
8 Comparisons
Market Research
Key Insights from User Research

Users consider medical adherence responsibilities to be their own. They need to feel empowered to improve their habits on their own.

Desire for self-empowerment
Reasons for non-medical adherence

The main reasons for non-medical adherence habits based off our research included forgetfulness, feeling overwhelmed from taking multiple meds, and a lack of educational material on medications.

User motivations and pain points

Users are motivated by others. They’re open to having those close to them offer support as long as privacy is a priority and interactions are limited verses the burden being placed primarily on others. 

Industry standards and inspirations

for design concepts

Key functionality in medical adherence technology currently includes dosage reminders and alerts along with history logs. Some inspirations were also drawn from lifestyle applications such as the Fitbit app and Noom Coach.

Empathy Map

Thinking and Feeling

My mom has "x" condition, I don't want to develop that

What kind of lifestyle changes should I be making?

I always forget to take my meds on time

I forgot to take my meds this morning, so I'll get back on track tomorrow.

How can I get in the habit of doing this?

I know obesity runs in my family

What should I be taking for my age?

Will I see results?


Medical pamphlets


Online ads

Social media posts/ads

Friends with "x" condition

Family with "x" condition

Strangers or work peers with "x"condition



That won't help you

I take "this" for "that"

I heard that medicine works well for "x" condition

What helps me remember is "x"

Commercials on TV

Radio ads


Saying and Doing

Asking others what they do for their health

Researching online for alternatives to meds

Asking physicians for suggestions in treating or avoiding a condition

Asking the pharmacists for suggestions in developing better habits

Telling others about "turning over a  new leaf" to gain a support system


Identifying the Primary Persona






Mobile Gaming

Antique Fairs

Catching up on news

Name: Mary

Age: 44 years old

Residence: Oakland, CA

Occupation: Manager at Kiehl’s Skincare

Goals: Mary would like to take better care of her health. She would like to add

taking vitamins to her daily routine along with being better about taking her

current prescription pills without missing a dosage. 

Bio: Mary is a 44-year old manager at Kiehl’s cosmetics and skin care. She is married with no children and spends her free time at local farmers markets or brunching with friends.
Mary recently began taking vitamins along with her new prescription regiment but is having a hard time staying on track with taking her medications and supplements at the appropriate times. She tends to forget or miss doses during her busy workweek.
Meeting User Goals Through Design
Empower Primary Users

Building relationships among 

app users for motivation 

Designing alerts and notifications which are conversational and feel motivational  

Simplify use of medication reminders

Simplify adding a medication

Provide clear understanding that

privacy among connected users is a priority

Simplify settings and notifications 

related to connected users 

Simplify overall information architecture

Emulate reminders and alerts

similar to established smartphone apps

Engaging display of progress 

Simplify interactions among users

Engagement through milestones to build motivation

Create motivating interactions

Motivational milestones from the app itself for those uninterested in having contacts

Pre-populated motivational 

messages along with customizable options 

Improving the User Experience Through Design

Usability Testing - Insights on the current application

Informational Architecture


The drawer menu was hard for users to discover.


Current dashboard dial seems less intuitive for users, for example none of those tested understood they could move to the next contact through the spinning motion.

Other Insights


Many participants stated they would prefer to call or text their app contacts as opposed to sending them a video or audio message due to data usage/requirements.

Content Strategy


Content fields were unclear when it came to entering information as far was what was necessary as opposed to what they could skip.

Testing participants enjoyed the idea of having medical articles populate related to their health interests.


Social media options made numerous participants uncomfortable due to concerns of privacy or accidentally sharing private information.


The section labeled as “shop” felt confusing to users. They weren’t sure what they were expecting to find there but it didn’t align with the option of buying another pillbox. 


Meeting Business Goals through the Design

  • Interactions are simple, empowering, and educational.

  • Users feel motivated and supported by the app and their community within it.

  • Users see value in Tricella and how using the Pillbox and the application serve to improve their medical adherence habits.


Serves Tricella Core Values




  • Discovers new opportunities for improving user engagement and empowerment through user testing and research

  • Early stage key interactions feel simple and useful. If this goes smoothly, the users continue using the app as time goes on

  • Users see value in the interactions with others within the app which leads to product loyalty. Therefore, providing design concepts for improving these interactions was also a priority.

  • Good User Experience = More downloads

Empowering the Primary User

Some of the design changes included:


  • redesigning the home screen 

  • display recent reminders and notifications in a “newsfeed” format

  • updating the main navigation 

  • shifting dosage history to be stored within the “profile” section 

  • displaying the dosage history in different formats

  • “settings” displayed at all times 

Building Support for the User

Some of the design changes included:


  • notifications of major milestones by the app directly congratulating the user

  • creating a community with fellow users which requires little to no effort

  • pre-populated motivators which connected users can send to each other

  • curated content in regards to the medical articles displayed 

  • having privacy levels available which apply to all types of primary users

Improving Key Interactions with Tricella

Through research and redesign we looked to improve the Tricella experience for this specific user base. Design concepts were made to address certain key interactions. Some of them being …

User’s interactions with reminders and notifications

User adding a new medication

User tracking their

medical adherence history

User receiving a motivational notification from the app itself

User connecting 

with another app user

User sending a motivational chat 

Next Steps
  • Further usability testing on the redesign of the application for further design improvements


  • Continue to develop the content strategy throughout the entire application, making sure the goal of achieving a caring, conversational tone is complete.


  • On-boarding improvements to the visual walkthrough for connecting the hardware to the application for the first time.


  • Continue developing the community experience for users through the development of the leaderboard where users can track their adherence habits in a form of points verses others to improve engagement. Investigate implementing point-earning tactics further into the design.


  • Making sure the holistic experience of Tricella is one of care from beginning to end.

© 2016 by Diana Muina