Matthew O'Connell, a junior at Commack High School, is making waves in the world of pharmaceuticals for his innovative use of software to help people read the very small print on medicine bottles and pamphlets.
O’Connell developed software to relay pharmaceutical information using pictograms - illustrations that represent ideas or words. He presented his work at the annual International Pharmaceutical Federation Congress in Dublin, Ireland on Sept. 3, surrounded by pharmacist professionals
The pictogram software works to help pharmacists worldwide accurately communicate with patients who speak a different language or have difficulty understanding and reading the literature that accompanies medications. The Java-based program utilizes translations and pictograms to ensure that patients are able to understand the details about their medications and to follow prescriber’s instructions.
Recently, O'Connell has been working with mentors from The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
A few years ago, Commack High School Science Research teacher Richard Kurtz and some of his students were working on a project that involved the construction of a device that would deliver medication to patients. Kurtz developed a working relationship with Dr. Régis Vaillancourt, Director of Pharmacy at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and other doctors there. Kurtz asked Régis if he needed any special things done, which is how O'Connell's project began. The teen is a current science research student under the guidance of Kurtz and Lorraine Solomon. He also received a tremendous amount of help from his computer science teacher, Kristin Holmes.
"I developed the software to fill a need. It is going to be utilized by pharmacists worldwide to better facilitate, through the use of pictograms, the communication of the proper use of prescription medication to patients where there are language and/or literacy barriers between patients and pharmacist,” O'Connell said in a statement.