Glasgow School of Art student creates app to explain complex medication information

A Glasgow School of Art (GSA) student has created an app to help people understand complex medication information and make an informed decision about whether to take the treatment.

Amal Amzan, from Malaysia, who studied medical visualisation and human anatomy, used a recently released medication for MS, Alemtuzumab, as the focus for her work. Alemtuzumab has a very high impact on MS but it also has potentially dangerous side effects.

She worked with six people living with MS on a co-design project to understand their experience of patient information. The main message that came out of this project was “just tell us what we need to know.” Amal’s answer was a mobile app that uses plain language, and is straightforward and accessible.

Illustrations and animations complement text to help users absorb information and visualise it better. Bright colours and visual content help the user to cope with information which is often not easy to absorb. In an augmented reality scene, Alemtuzumab is explained in a very simple way.

“I have always been interested in information delivery and how to make it better,” said Amal. “Since a young age I have been a very visual person. I found the education material provided in school very dry, and would use illustrations and colours to improve my studies.”

“More recently I have been looking into patient-doctor communication as I often find that the people around me are dissatisfied with their medical consultations. Doctors do not have enough time with their patients, leaving information-seeking up to patients. This is why good quality resources need to be available, as this affects health in the long run.”

The app was tested by people living with MS and an MS specialist nurse and it had an overwhelmingly positive response. Amal hopes that it will be possible to do further research with a larger group of people living with MS, and also develop it for people with different conditions.

Amal’s work is part of the GSA’s graduate degree show which has gone ahead despite the fire in the Mackintosh Building. Students from the School of Design, Innovation School, Mackintosh School of Architecture, and School of Simulation and Visualisation would normally have shown their work in the Reid Building. With support of Castleforge Partners their exhibition is being staged in the city’s Garment Factory.

The Glasgow School of Art has one of the largest communities of postgraduate students following creative programmes in the UK,” said Professor Tom Inns, the GSA’s director. “Graduate Degree Show is an important opportunity for them to share their work with a wider audience and to show how creativity and innovation can address many of the challenges facing society today.”

The fire in the Mackintosh Building has had an impact on all our postgraduate students, but particularly those who are usually based in the Bourdon and Reid Buildings,” he added.

“With these buildings still remaining inside the fire security cordon it is unfortunately not possible to hold the show for Architecture, Design, Innovation and SimVis students on Garnethill, so we are very grateful to Castleforge Partners for helping us to stage their exhibition in the Garment Factory bringing the whole of Graduate Degree Show to the Merchant City.

“We would also like to thank Baillie Gifford who have generously supported an annual Art and Design Bursary for our students since 2014 and this year have extended their support to the GSA by becoming headline sponsors of Graduate Degree Show.”

Rachael Pittaway from Castleforge Partners, The Garment Factory landlord, said: “We are very excited and honoured to support the Architecture, Design, Simulation + Visualisation and Innovation students from the GSA by hosting this year’s graduate degree show at the Garment Factory.

“We have recently restored the building’s original industrial aesthetic and emphasised its factory origins by making features of the cast iron columns and leaving services exposed to allow the original fabric of the building to shine; this has resulted in an expansive open plan and interesting space that will be perfect for a creative exhibition like this.”

Nicholas Thomas, a partner at Baillie Gifford, added: ‘We are very pleased to help support the GSA through the challenges it is facing. We congratulate all the varied contributors to the Graduate Degree Show, and wish all the best to the GSA, its staff and students for next year.”

Other students of medical visualisation and human anatomy, a programme which is co-delivered with the Glasgow University, have created augmented reality apps to educate children about viruses and created an online 3D library and a set of 3D prints of drugs and receptors for the British Pharmacological Society.

Innovations from students on the serious games and VR programme include a virtual reality environment for teaching basic physics and mechanics and a ‘semantic tapestry’ which allows different users to create digital stories and explore them on in simple 3D environments.

Heritage Visualisation students have created augmented reality and multimedia narratives for the Weigh House in Talinn and created a computer game based on National Trust for Scotland’s Kellie Castle.

The graduate degree show in the Garment Factory (10 Montrose Street, G1 1RE) and the Tontine Building (20 Trongate, G1 5ES) runs until9 September. Open 10am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 5pm Saturday/Sunday, entry is free.