McKesson Canada BlistAssist

A device that revolutionizes the workflow in pharmacies by optimizing the preparation of medication blister cards.

Electronic EngineeringFirmware DevelopmentIndustrial DesignMechanical EngineeringProduct StrategyUX Design

A product that revolutionizes the workflow in pharmacies.

McKesson Canada, a company whose mission is to improve all aspects of health care, engaged NOVO to develop a solution for manually preparing and verifying medication blister cards in pharmacies.

NOVO and McKesson Canada proposed an innovative solution to a number of problems in pharmacies. BlistAssist is the only technology product of its kind on the market, and we harnessed all of our expertise to develop this integrated solution within a short span of time.





The McKesson Canada BlistAssist is Protected by the following patents: Australian Patent No. 2011615417; Canadian Industrial Design Registration No. 169907; EU Community Design Reg. No. 001453104-0001; New Zealand Design Registration No. 422105; U.S. Design Registration No. D806,261. Additional patents may be pending in the U.S. and elsewhere.

An idea that is innovative and unique on the market

Our industrial designers and the McKesson Canada team came up with the idea of using a projection system to show which cups to fill, along with the right medication and amount. Each step would then be photographed and recorded for the pharmacist to review and approve.

This system would ensure fast and accurate preparation while significantly reducing the risk of error, which is a big issue for pharmacies. The projector would also make it possible to display much more information, such as the patient’s profile and drug information, as well as interactively guide the technician through the process.

Product strategy and user experience

Of course, a good idea doesn’t count for much without good execution. With that in mind, our strategists and designers had to verify and confirm that the idea was as good in reality as it was on paper. This was when the immersion stage of the project began.

The project team visited several pharmacies to get a good grasp of the environment and the profile of the end users, who in this case are pharmacy lab technicians. Among other things, we had to fully understand and analyze the:

A proof of concept that let us test the idea quickly

The first physical proofs of concept were made using user experience data collected up front.

Our industrial designers built a first physical proof of concept out of wood and incorporated a store-bought projector and an ordinary mirror to project the image onto the table.

Despite some challenges, such as the projection angle, photography, and accuracy of the projector, we were able to quickly confirm at that stage that the initial idea really was feasible and functional.

Structure en bois



Surface de projection

Design concepts, prototyping, and testing

In close cooperation with our engineering teams, our designers validated the ergonomics and usability of the solution in pharmacy using a volumetric model. Several visual concepts were then designed, accounting for the size of BlistAssist, the McKesson Canada brand image, and the future electronic and mechanical components.

This iterative process enabled McKesson Canada to select a final design, as well as have a complete and optimized user flow based on user testing.

Technical development and engineering

During the technical development phase, our mechanical engineers incorporated all the components. They overcame a number of challenges, including the potential for the projector to overheat, the projection angle, and the positioning of components like the barcode scanner and camera within a tight space.
Over in electronic engineering, our team selected the components, including the camera, barcode scanner, USB hub, sensors, buttons, electromagnet, and more. This same team also designed a printed circuit board (PCB) based on a microcontroller (MCU) that would read sensors and buttons, activate an electromagnet, and communicate with the control computer via USB.
As for our embedded software specialists, they developed the software for the microcontroller on the printed circuit board.

The outcome

This collaboration with McKesson Canada yielded an innovative, patented, and marketable product that revolutionizes the preparation of blister cards in pharmacies. BlistAssist improves the sorting and packaging process and reduces the risk of error, while also incorporating traceability and drug verification.

This initial collaboration also kickstarted the development of other innovative products with McKesson Canada, which we’ll look at in future case studies.

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