Flohaler, an asthma inhaler designed to promote and maintain an optimised technique over time.
The effect using Flohaler has on straightening the throat.
Packaging designed to disrupt current formats and push the most relevant information to the patient
Initial ideation session to define the research direction and initial brief
Modelling and prototyping for user testing a design validation
What it does
Flohaler, a PMDI, promotes an enhanced posture and technique for asthmatics taking a daily preventative inhaler. By improving daily inhaler technique, efficiency can be increased, reducing the symptoms experienced.
Initial research showed that 67% of asthma related deaths are preventable through better asthma care, with 70-90% of the time inhalers are being used incorrectly. Although correct technique can see up to 50% of the drug can reaching the lungs, incorrect technique can result in as little as 7% reaching the lungs. Due to a poor inhaler technique being widely adopted by patients, doses are often increased to compensate putting further financial pressure on health services. Variations in air quality coupled with incorrect inhaler usage results in poor asthma management, making its effects more unpredictable.
How it works
Intended to be griped rather than pinched unlike traditional inhalers, coupled with the angled mouthpiece, means the most comfortable and natural way to use it is by patients lifting their chin. This results in the throat being straightened, reducing the deposition of the dose in the mouth and at the back of the throat. A more restrictive opening around the canister ensures patients inhale at a much slower rate, further reducing drug deposition on the back of the throat. As a result of adopting an enhanced posture and reducing the rate of intake, this allows for patients to better coordinate the process of inhaling and activating the dose, allowing for a higher drug deposition to occur within the lungs. Suggestive design language prompts the user to place the inhaler on side with the dose counter facing upwards. Coupled with the use of colour on the dose counter, this makes it more visually engaging, reducing the risk of the patient being left without a dose.
Key findings from a range of patients and medical experts highlighted the issue of becoming complacent when taking an inhaler daily. Finding a way of challenging this complacency became the primary focus for the project, promoting and maintaining correct inhaler technique over time. After initial design exploration, modelling became an integral part of the design process, enabling regular testing of ergonomics and usability, while understanding how internal components such as the dose counter and canister would interact with each other. Developed 3D printed models ensured the validation of the design direction, with models being constantly evaluated and refined. Taking this approach with user testing being central to the design process, allowed the effectiveness and suitability of final design to be ensured.
How it is different
Existing projects and products, although aiming to tackle some of the issues associated with PMDI’s, were found to do so in a way that results in an increased cost, limiting its commercial reach. Through approaching this through the use of form to suggest user interaction rather than through complex internal mechanisms, then this positions it as a much less expensive alternative. Reducing complexity in its usage further lowers the risk of being misused by patients. Not only are the number of steps needed to take the inhaler reduced, but also makes it easier for the user to understand when the dose has been activated; a problem with current, more complex alternatives. As a result of using Flohaler, 167% of patients demonstrated an improved inhaler technique. Furthermore, the selected colour palette makes it easier for one of the 1 in 12 colour blind men to identify inhalers, reducing confusion for patients with multiple actuators.
In the future, development of a children’s range specifically designed for smaller hands along with supplementary products such as spacers will enhance the inhalers functionality across a broader range of patients. Additional development into reducing the volume of material needed for the actuator could have further additional benefits, not only from an economic perceptive, but also an environmental one too.