A New Leaf on Life: Next-Gen Nausea Relief for Chemotherapy Patients
Rachel Stevens is a self-described beach lover, eating enthusiast and people person. Nothing makes her tick like wanting to know what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. As an industrial designer, Rachel is passionate about solving complex human problems.
She strives to find impactful approaches to communication allowing her to interpret and translate these challenges in meaningful ways. Her past life as a UI/UX and graphic designer combined with her training in human-centred design provide her with a unique perspective on visual communication.
Rachel's fascination with complex problems provide her with an interest in system and service design, leading her to The Growth Drivers in late 2019. Here the diverse and creative team have been supporting her to develop a whole new range of skills as a design strategist. Rachel admits she didn't know what that was when she started but now can't imagine doing anything else.
This Brisbane-based industrial designer now heralds the next generation of nausea relief for chemotherapy patients with Releaf, a smart medicinal cannabis administration device.
Researched and designed for her Honours Thesis at the Queensland University of Technology, Releaf is designed for people suffering Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea & Vomiting (CINV) to self-administer a correct dose of medicinal cannabis simply and reliably.
“Releaf was designed with the genuine intent of improving the quality of life. Its potential to positively impact the lives of those debilitated by nausea has real flow-on effects in contributing towards a prosperous society,” Rachel said.
“If sufferers from CINV can find a way to manage their symptoms, they are one step closer to going out for a meal with a friend, being able to drive themselves to a doctor’s appointment rather than relying on community services or family, or they might even be able to return to work. That’s a huge impact on mental health, contributing to the economy and reducing the burden on health services.”
Rachel has just been recognised as a Good Design Award winner for the ground-breaking device.
“As a designer, you really have the power to change people's lives, if you get it right, and one of the major areas you can do this is in healthcare,” Rachel said.
“I knew a number of people who had been using CBD oil and similar products really successfully to manage things like OCD or nausea. It was really easy to see the impact of this medication on people but it was just so hard for them to get their hands on.”
Medicinal cannabis is a burgeoning space in Australia where its legal status varies from state to state, limiting its use and preventing a national support infrastructure from being established. This means elements such as packaging and administration devices often aren’t fit for purpose.
Medicinal cannabis can be life-changing for people but it needs a delivery system that works to facilitate its success. Releaf bridges this gap with a user-focussed solution that takes a holistic approach to treat nausea.
An oral mucosal spray that accurately doses prescription medical cannabis, Releaf features replaceable cannabis cartridges and is also Bluetooth equipped so users can track their usage through an app. A mechanical lock ensures the device is childproof and prevents accidental overdosing.
As medicinal cannabis gains a pharmaceutical footing in Australia, devices such as Releaf will play a vital role in improving quality of life for chemotherapy patients and promoting the use of medicinal cannabis as safe, effective nausea relief.
“I wanted to design something to spark that conversation and start removing some of the stigma around medical cannabis,” Rachel added.
“There needs to be a certain level of acceptance and push from the people to drive impactful policy change. It’s those conversations that are going to see people get these important medications into their treatment plans.”