Employing HCI to Eliminate Medicine Dispensing Machine Servicing Roadblocks

Simplifying service delivery by optimizing existing workflows and minimizing manual intervention that hindered customer service efficiency.


Pharmacy Management

UI of the Central Pharmacy Dispensing Service on an iPad


What’s the first step to smooth service delivery? Removing its complexity, of course!

Our client is a leading North American company whose product inventory comprises a range of medical carts and mounts to be used by hospital staff.

They partnered with us to help evaluate and enhance the UX and UI of the pod replacement workflow of their medication delivery carts used to dispense medication to patients in hospitals.

The existing pod replacement process created problems for the service technicians, the customer support staff, and the customers as there was a lot of back-and-forth communication that happened over resolving a single complaint. For the hospital staff, malfunction in the medication delivery carts meant that they had to set up a temporary offline pharmacy while coordinating with customer support and the field agents.

Overview of the existing pod replacement process showing its complexity


Multiple roadblocks contributed to the disruption of service deliveries

Their workflow featuring the customers, on-site service technicians, and customer support staff was broken and in-cohesive. This resulted in the scheduling of site visits for matters that could have been resolved remotely.

The contracted service technicians would have to spend extended hours at sites as a result of the time-consuming manual pod replacement process. This would have a domino effect and delay subsequent site visits, resulting in disgruntled customers and results of loss of revenue.


Eliminating the barriers of complexity

Build a simple and streamlined pod replacement workflow by assessing the existing pod replacement process to identify opportunities to optimize and simplify it by eliminating

  • Extensive manual intervention to improve servicing timelines
  • The need for expert service technicians by removing the systemic complexity
  • Unstandardized workflows by ensuring a smooth, authenticated process
  • Poor customer experience by creating a self-sufficient workflow
Collage of the Central Pharmacy Dispensing Service pods and a healthcare provider


The user research phase is critical to understanding the current frustrations and inefficiencies within the pod replacement process. We needed to understand the needs and pain points of all stakeholders involved in the pod replacement process.


This includes

Research Methods

  • Interviews: In-depth interviews with representatives from each stakeholder group to understand their specific frustrations and workflow inefficiencies.
  • Surveys: Surveyed a broader range of users to gather quantitative data on frequency of issues, time spent troubleshooting, and overall satisfaction.
  • Observational Studies: Observe technicians performing pod replacements and customer support staff interacting with hospital staff regarding pod issues.
We created a detailed overview of the whole pod replacement process using post-its

The journey mapping exercise helped us understand not just the workflow of the customer support and field agents, but also the hardware (storage unit) and the way it is put into use by the nurses and technicians. Inconsistent and fragmented user journeys cause mounting frustration and impact the bottom line of the company

We analyzed the collected data to identify common themes and recurring issues across all stakeholder groups for trends in:.

  • Reasons technicians need to visit sites.
  • Types of communication breakdowns between customer support and technicians/hospitals


The interviews with varied user groups brought into focus the key challenges faced by different stakeholders. A common trend that emerged during these interviews was that targeting the pod replacement journey with the field agent as the key user made the most sense. Theirs was the single most high-impact journey that would deliver maximum value.

3 persona cards depicting the quote mentioning each individuals’ pain points

The key issues discovered in the pod replacement process were -


User-focused (Field Technician)

  • Requires the user to perform repetitive steps, since replacing the pod drawer involves manual removal, adding the medication, and reconfiguring the replaced hardware.
  • The user adds the inventory and configuration, one unit at a time, and may have to spend more time waiting for a system upgrade.



  • Users are required to connect with 2-3 points of contact to build context
  • If the technical advisor is busy or unavailable, it adds to the wait time



  • Customers often connect unsupported gadgets like phone chargers and portable fans to the USB provided for the auxiliary unit that damages the circuit
  • Some users tend to slam the drawers, causing them to malfunction
  • The access cart fails to detect the new hardware post the upgrade


Lack of documentation or checklist shared with the customer to prep for the activity

  • Reminder about the replacement activity
  • Request to empty the drawer/pod before the visit
  • Informing the customer about the estimated downtime
  • Coordination with the pharmacy department for the availability of their representative
  • Protocol to be followed while doing a replacement activity
  • Manual documentation of medication inventory


Once we synthesized the data received, we could identify that the key pain areas revolved around two aspects of the process: The team focused on key issue areas in the context of the process and came up with ideas to simplify it.

Two prominent themes from the session were:

Ability to perform batch actions

  • Ability to empty multiple drawers/pods
  • Ability to select multiple pods/drawers and apply the same attributes to them
  • Easy transfer of data needed by the user

Change in the process

  • Request the pharmacy rep to empty the drawers before the arrival of the technician as a prerequisite
  • Let the pharmacy refill the medication into the access cart once the mapping of drawers is successfully done
Before and after depictions of the changes in the pod replacement UI


With the identified focus areas from the research and synthesis process, the design team prototyped concepts that would focus on solving the above-listed issues.

UI Design

The redesign pod replacement module improved service timelines and reduced support requests


  • 38% decline in repair requests to customer service.

  • 31% improvement in the repair process.

  • 24% improvement in the accuracy of complaint resolution estimates.

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