Hello, my name is Parmeet Singh, and I am currently a first-year student at the University of Toronto. Along with my friend Shusil Shapkota, I joined the Tech Under Twenty Fellowship program. We joined in the hopes of getting the chance to make an app that would benefit society and enable us to gain valuable experience that would aid us in our future careers. We decided to partner up so that we would be able to split the workload as well as build on our teamwork. Based on our skills, Shusil worked on the functionality of the app while I designed the user interface (UI); those being the two key elements of an app.
The original plan was to make an app that would remind people with diabetes to take their medication. Someone that is diagnosed with diabetes is under constant pressure to take their medication and supplements at a specific time and on a regular basis. This aspect can be quite challenging, especially for those that are newly diagnosed. Our app would aid people suffering from diabetes by providing a convenient app that keeps track of their medication habits and allows them to keep track of various aspects of their condition. The app would be user-friendly as to allow users of any age to interact seamlessly. The following are some of the unique features it would process:
- Alert loved ones if the user forgets to take medication
- Create a report of medication habits for physician
- Remind the user to refill medication
- Provide medication information to the user
Challenges Along the Way
Although I personally had experience with programming, I had never programmed a mobile app, let alone work in an environment made for developing apps (android studio). For many technical aspects of the app, I had to undergo a learning curve, in order to fully understand my capabilities.
Going in under the impression that I had all summer to work on this project, I did not plan my time. This was a struggle for me as I did not expect to be as busy as I was during the summer, and was not able to use my free time wisely. Moreover, I did not allocate some time to learn new things, which threw me behind schedule.
Communication with my partner
A key part of my project was working in coordination with my partner Shusil. Initially, we were confident that we could just message each other and keep up to date on our parts. However, as we got further in our project, we realized we needed to plan meetups so that we can physically see each other’s progress. This proved to be difficult as we both had busy schedules for the summer (something we did not initially anticipate). In general, there was also the aspect of coming to an agreement which always proves difficult in a group setting as it requires everyone to agree on one aspect before any work can be done.
Experience Working With Our Mentor
I was a pleasure working with our mentor, Daniel Saliba. He is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Public Health at the University of Toronto, and he brought with him his experience and knowledge of this field. Working with our mentor allowed us to reassess our goals and objective, which later led to making the app general purpose than just focused on diabetes. He also gave us his opinions and criticisms about how the app should be presented and some issues that a common when dealing with sensitive information. We have never worked on a project such as this, as it is dealing with one’s personal data, and there are many realities that we could not take into account without the help of Daniel.
What I Enjoyed About this Project
An incentive to talk to doctors and pharmacists about their practices
My goal is to pursue a career in medicine, and this project gave me the opportunity to talk to doctors and pharmacist about the kind of information that would be useful to them.
The experience of managing my own self-guided project
Since this project has not guidelines, I felt very free and as if I am self-employed. It also allowed me to take my time on specific aspects and design the app on my own accord without having to meet any expectation.
Designing and publishing our own unique app
One of the great things that I can take away from this project is the experience of making and publishing an app. This will be very useful later on, as not everyone will have the experience of making their own app, and would make me stand out from my peers.
What I Learned from this Project
Importance of user feedback
One of the key skills I took away from this project is the ability to constantly adjust my app from the feedback given by test users. Previously, most of my programming was done independently, without taking others’ views into consideration. However, when making an app that will be used by others, it was very important to not only tailor it them but also ensure they are compliant with what the app does, such as the information that is collected.
How to plan and re-plan
When making any project it is important to be flexible, in other words being able to make changes frequently. In the case for this project, I found that we constantly re-visited many of our previous stages, and had to make changes as we tweaked the functionality based on user feedback.
One aspect of this project that was truly unique was the fact that we were working with medical information, which is very confidential. Since we were new to this, we did not know what kind of information we were able to collect, what kind of information we must disclose, and how we should go about getting this information. The project required us to look up the logistics behind such things, and in turn, learned something new we would not have otherwise known.
The Final Product
Our final app has many of the originally planned features, however, it is now for more general use. It is a smart medication reminder app meant for anyone that is taking prescription medication on a daily basis. This app provides convenient functions to keep tabs on their medication. Although the app can be used by anyone, it is targeted towards seniors that may have trouble remembering to take medication, especially if they are taking a multitude of different ones. Some new features include:
- Taking feedback from the user after they have taken medication
- Ability to look up medication from a multiple trusted sources
- Register basic medication information
- Dose and type
- Rx/DIN number
- prescribed instructions