Individual pods prefilled with an allergenic substance and a lancet (marking on outer foil)
Use: remove foil (1), place pod (2), deform dome (3), remove pod (4), throw away (5) and results (6)
Verification on forearms of a toddler, to check the acceptation of the product by the child
Product range offered by Opod: package (1), collector box (2), leaflet (3) and ruler (4)
Different protoyping phases (selection by doctors, usability study, testing with kids, thermoform)
Opod is an innovative applicator for the skin prick test. The test allows a doctor to diagnose allergies in patients from all ages in a standardised and userfriendly way. By minimizing the manual actions, less faults are made and the results are more reliable.
During the search for a medical masterthesis I contacted a Belgian peditrician, specialized in allergy tests. She showed me the usability-problems and the lack of standardization with the current test. After observations in the hospital and interviews with other doctors, more problems showed up (e.g. spillage, different techniques used and unhygienic material), which supports the need of a new device. A market analysis showed that there are no innovative products available and that the number of allergies is increasing, so a new product could help many patients and doctors worldwide. An interesting subject with a lot of potential!
Opod offers a range of sixty allergenic substances, divided into eight categories (e.g. trees, animal epithelium, mites...). Each categorie has a specific colour and symbol, which makes it easy for the doctor to select the correct pods. After the selection, the doctor removes an antistick-foil on the outside, whereby a sticky layer appears. The doctor places the sticky pod on the forearm and pushes the dome with the finger. Thereby, the lancet inside (covered with allergenic substance) penetrates the skin perpendicullary and slightly damages the skin. By doing this, the skin cells can react with the allergen. The deformed pod is removed and automatically a marked ring stays behind on the skin. After fifteen minutes, the skin possibly reacted to the allergen and a red wheal is visible. The marked ring shows to the doctor which allergenic substance caused a skin reaction.
The first step was an analysis of the current skin prick test: observations, interviews and a literature study were performed. This led to a bunch of design drivers, specifications and functions for the new product. The next step consists of brainstorming and sketching to find solutions for the problems with the current test. These solutions were combined into nine concepts by using a morphological chart and each concept was prototyped. By asking the opinion of doctors, industrial designers and production experts, the best concept/prototype was chosen. The following step is prove the working principle of the deformable dome, by prototyping with a thermoforming machine and a 3D-printed mold. Different materials and thicknesses were tested. Also Solidworks simulations were used to define the shape of the dome. Many small prototypes were used throughout the whole process, to verify the shape and size of the small applicator. At the end of the design, a usability-study was performed with twelve nurses, who all tested the old and the new test approach by using prototypes. They compared both tests and gave their preference for test A and test B on different criterias. The last verification with prototypes was to test the acceptation of the applicator by children, with great results.
Opod is the first applicator that comprises an innovative and faster approach to perform the test. The pods are userfriendly, easy to handle, standardized and perfect for children! The existing range of products for the skin prick test is little innovative, monotonous and little distinctive of other brands. When a doctor chooses to work with Opod, the skin prick test becomes fun and safe for both doctor and patient. The pods unify the test material, standardise the penetration-technique and simplify the test procedure. It limits the number of manual steps, whereby the number of false negative and false positive results is minimized. The individual pods are hygienic and can be stored longer, causing less expensive allergenic substance to be thrown away. The individual pods make the skin prick test available for doctors performing a low number of tests, because low quantities can be ordered.
More prototyping needs to be done to prove the exact working of the collapsible dome. A more precise mold and the right thickness of material is needed to investigate this part of the applicator, which was not possible during the term of my thesis. The mold makes it possible to test many shapes. After this, a new usability-study with nurses or doctors is needed so that the deformation can be included. To launch the product on the market, investors are needed to borrow money for the clinical trials, the purchase of the production line and the process to gain the CE-marking to make sales in Europe possible.
Opod is in the running for a nomination in the 'best of PO'-award (best masterthesis 'industrial design' at the University of Antwerp). Four companies hand out a price to the best masterthesis in 2017-2018. In total four prices exist: medical, packaging, userfriendliness and child-friendliness.