HealthPack 2016: Users prefer time-saving packages

By Daphne Allen in Medical Packaging on March 22, 2016

Nurses and medical technicians evaluated packages during a Voice of the Customer focus group broadcast live at this year’s HealthPack, held in New Orleans March 15-17. As these users opened packages, they answered questions from IoPP’s Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee, which led the focus group. The healthcare professionals then joined a panel discussion and answered several audience questions.

Chief among the users’ concerns appeared to be opening packages quickly. “The faster you can open a product, the better,” one professional said. 

Two stated that they preferred single-barrier packaging because it “saves time, and there’s less waste.” (Interestingly, double-barrier packaging was a preference in Voice of the Customer surveys shared at HealthPack 2012 and HealthPack 2013.)  

One professional this year suggested that medical device manufacturers add an “open here” message to packages “to indicate what end to open.”

And another said that color in labeling helps users “find product during an emergency situation.” 

Also, product sizing and wording on packaging should “be clear and to the point” to assist those in “cath lab emergency situations.”

The professionals said they always look at expiry dates and look for part numbers.

Small packaging was described as being “hard to open” by technicians with large hands. One professional said: “I don’t like small packages, but they help with storage.” (Nurses at last year’s HealthPack requested “more area at the edge of packages . . . to hold on to when opening.”) But in 2014, nurses favored compact packages. 

Ensuring sterility is a concern, as expressed in past panel discussions. One professional this year described using the “dumping technique so that I am not over the sterile field—it is easier to know I won’t make mistakes.” 

And “if there’s a question that something is compromised, I let them know that I don’t feel comfortable,” added a professional.

In terms of recycling efforts, one professional reported that boxes are collected for recycling outside the operating room, but “once a box makes it into the OR, there’s no recycling.” 

When opening a tray, one user said that it “usually goes into the red bag because it was in the sterile field.”

Another “rolls up all the contents of the sterile [field] and puts it all in the red bag.” 

When opening a long tray packaged in a pouch and carton, one professional stated that generally there’s no training to open packaging, at least that of a long or large nature. One professional described positioning a very long package over her shoulder and then guiding the contents out into the sterile field.

Device company representatives appear to play an occasional role in package opening. “After a patient has been sized, reps often bring in products, so we don’t store them,” explained one professional. “The reps almost always open the packaging.”

Next year HealthPack 2017 will be held March 7-9 in Denver.

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