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Bringing Medicine to People

Series 1/4

COVID 19 has changed the way the world looks at many things. It has also opened a huge door of endless new opportunities. As a Product Manager, who is always on duty to listen to the Voice of the Customer, I discuss a problem I recently noticed and the way I would build it if I were the Product Manager for this product.

My parents live in a metropolitan city, on the eastern part of India. Recently, on a call with them, they casually happened to mention how difficult it was for them to get their regular supply of medicines. Both my parents have medical conditions, for which they require daily doses of medicines. Somewhere, the product manager’s ears opened, and I asked them “Why do you say that Ma?”. It is with this simple question, I was able to understand the root cause of their difficulty.

Most of the medications that are given out for chronic diseases, like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, thyroid, etc, are prescription medications. This means, to buy these medicines, a prescription from the doctor is needed to be presented to the pharmacist, who then provides the necessary supply to the patient. In the era before COVID-19, this was the process:

Process to get prescriptions refilled before COVID-19 lockdown


As someone who requires regular medication for thyroid problems, I have experienced the issues first hand. However, to ensure the validity of this problem, I decided to conduct a quick survey. With the resources available, I developed the following survey:

Survey Questionnaire
Survey Questionnaire

In an ideal situation, if I had more access to people, I would have liked to share the survey to a wider audience demography. However, with the audience I had access to, I was able to collect the following information:

50% of the people surveyed require monthly refills, while 10% require weekly refills
Almost majority of the people who require prescription medicines find that refills are taking longer


As can be seen, COVID-19 has clearly impacted the time it takes to refill an order. To further narrow down on the problem points of the process of refilling prescriptions, I decided to use one of my upcoming appointments as a reference point.

The first step looked like this:

To schedule an appointment for prescription refill

Second step after an appointment is confirmed:

After appointment is confirmed

After the appointment is completed:

After appointment — Doctor
After appointment — Patient

As you can see, the process is not only long, but inefficient. These shortcomings become even more apparent during periods of lockdown or limited accessibility.

The user research was mainly limited to friends and family, and hence in the next iteration, I would like to expand further to a larger group of people.

Problem Areas

Some problem areas that I identified from the above experience and survey are as follows:

1. Wait time to get an appointment with a doctor just for a prescription refill

2. Time between doctor sending the prescription and pharmacy receiving it

3. After the pharmacy refills, no one is notified. Therefore, the patient needs to keep calling the pharmacy to check if the refill is ready for pickup.

4. Prescriptions are refilled based on old lab results

This validates, that there is clearly a need for a product that addresses these pain points.

From the user research above, this is a visual representation of the product I envision:

It will be a platform that connects the patients, doctors, testing labs and pharmacies easily and efficiently.

Therefore, 4 different users become evident for this platform and their characteristics are as follows:

Patient ( Let’s name him Anthony Bourdain):

1. Above 18 years of age

2. Has access to a phone or computer or laptop

3. Requires prescription medicines

4. Limited mobility due to:

a. Lockdown

b. Old age

c. Other reasons

Doctor (Let’s name him Dr. Rhett Butler):

1. Is a licensed doctor by profession

2. Has access to phone or computer or laptop

3. Practices medicine as part of a medical institution or clinic


1. Is a licensed pharmacist by profession

2. Works for one of the chain pharmacies (such as Rexall or Shoppers Drug Mart)

3. Has access to phone or computer or laptop

Test Labs Professional:

1. Must be a professional working for one of the major test labs(such as LifeLabs)

2. Has access to a vehicle

3. Has access to phone or laptop or computer

Some of the activities that each of these user personas will perform are as follows:

The first part of this series was performing user research and defining user personas along with the activities they would perform on the platform. The main aim of performing user research is to get an idea about the needs and motivation of the target end-user. I will be using this as the foundation to drive the development of this product. The process I will be following is depicted below:


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