Can packaging help patients learn?

Daphne Allen

June 1, 2016

3 Min Read
Can packaging help patients learn?
Smart Pad 2.0 from Noble features sensors built into the packaging for an active learning experience.

Joe Reynolds thinks so. As research manager in Noble’s design and engineering department, Reynolds helps drug and medical device manufacturers develop training aids that can help patients learn how to self-administer therapies. Some of these aids can be incorporated into packaging, and they could provide additional support when patients experience situations such as needle anxiety or training decay.  

"We focus on ways to build confidence levels to self-administer products, and we have different ways to decrease anxiety as well as address training decay, which can happen with drugs that are taken on a weekly, bimonthly, or quarterly basis,” explains Reynolds. “We try to make additional touch points to help patients learn or relearn key steps to adhere to therapy.”

Noble follows “an integrated product development process that identifies the unique training needs of patients and other stakeholders,” says Reynolds. “We develop product requirements, create concepts that tie to user needs, and test those concepts through user feedback.”

Within packaging, different platform technologies are possible, he says. Designs could provide “multisensory feedback, such as auditory features or LEDs that correspond to a spoken script,” he explains. “We have sensors that we incorporate that can wirelessly connect with training devices to teach patients how to avoid mistakes.”

Smart Pad 2.0 is one such approach. Launched in October 2015, Smart Pad 2.0 incorporates sensors and other onboard technology into injection pads built into the the packaging. “The onboard technology can detect mistakes and provides an active learning experience,” Reynolds says. “The additional level of support increases learning retention.” It can be used with different injection devices and programmed with different languages, he adds. Noble presented Smart Pad 2.0 at the PDA Universe of Prefilled Syringes & Injection Devices in Vienna.


To develop designs such as Smart Pad 2.0 for customers, Noble is using 3D printing to develop and evaluate training prototypes. “We are 3D printing packaging forms and can then take those designs and rapidly prototype thermoformed features and packaging concepts,” he says. “We use an Objet 3D printer and then a Formech thermoforming machine to develop these concepts. It is nice to have these capabilities internally instead of outsourcing them. We can make some very innovative solutions.” 

Reynolds will be speaking about using 3D printing for prototyping designs in the upcoming MD&M East 2016 event “Design & Innovation Round Table Discussions: 3D Printing Challenges” on June 15.  

Noble is also delving into travel packaging. “Judging from travel blogs and forums, there’s a lot of confused patients out there,” Reynolds says. “They don’t know how to travel with their medications. We saw this as a large unmet need in the market and identified this as a key adherence barrier.”

The company is working to develop its new travel asset platforms to help patients safely transport temperature-sensitive medications. Options include soft-pack or hard-pack kits with different cooling and insulation features. “We’re evaluating different technologies for the greatest benefit to patients.” Noble will share different concepts in October at the 2016 PDA Universe of Pre-filled Syringes & Injection Devices.

Travel assets can incorporate training features to further enhance the patient experience and serve as an additional educational touch point for manufacturers, Reynolds adds.


Packaging professionals will find plenty of ideas and inspiration at the upcoming Medical Design & Manufacturing East and EastPack shows held June 14-16 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. Use promo code NY16PMPN to register to get your free expo pass. 

About the Author(s)

Daphne Allen

Daphne Allen is editor-in-chief of Design News. She previously served as editor-in-chief of MD+DI and of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News and also served as an editor for Packaging Digest. Daphne has covered design, manufacturing, materials, packaging, labeling, and regulatory issues for more than 20 years. She has also presented on these topics in several webinars and conferences, most recently discussing design and engineering trends at IME West 2024 and leading an Industry ShopTalk discussion during the show on artificial intelligence.

Follow Daphne on X at @daphneallen and reach her at [email protected].

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