Credit: Team Consulting.
Team UnboxingDesign engineers at Team Consulting are working on pop up drug delivery packaging designs like this one.
At the Pharmapack conference and exhibition in Paris in February 2013, UK-based medical device development consultancy Team Consulting showcased concepts for how packaging of medical products can improve usability and make essential products like auto-injectors and inhalers more appealing to the patient. Team is seeing demand for their services go beyond the design and engineering of the device itself to the wider patient experience and has responded with innovative ideas which take packaging “outside the box”.
“It has always been the case that devices have to be safe, but with new regulations around human factors over the last few years, the devices also have to be proven to be usable,” explains Team’s director of design Paul Greenhalgh. “This focus on safety and usability is opening the market up to some really encouraging innovation around how you make medical devices more usable, and how we can make them even more appealing to patients. We are all aiming for greater patient adherence and by tackling the big issues around why patients aren’t complying with their treatment we can make some improvements”.
The firm says that this is now leading them and other pioneers in the medical devices space to think about all aspects of the patient’s interactions with the device, such as the instructions, the packaging, the device itself and supportive aids like mobile apps.
“We are working with our pharmaceutical clients to improve their IFUs (instructions for use) and this led me onto these concepts for device packaging,” explains Team’s David Robinson, a design consultant. “I’d seen ‘unboxing’ videos online, where consumers film themselves opening that latest piece of technology, and I thought about whether we could use the same principles in our clients’ packaging.”
The result, according to Team, is that it could really help patients to understand how to use their device correctly. This could help reduce anxiety in patients and, in some cases, even generate some levels of excitement.
At Pharmapack, Team showcased its concepts and demonstrated what is possible if the industry thinks creatively and actively challenges the status quo.
Robinson explains, “Think of them as pop-up books. The auto-injector or inhaler sits behind a thermoformed plastic and can be seen through a cut-out in the instructions. As each page is turned to access the device, information is presented to users in bite size chunks, firing their ‘mirror neurons’ as they explore the device, intriguing and delighting them, and drawing them further in.”
Team seems to take great delight in challenging the sector to think about their devices as more than just the packaging around the drug. As they’ve said a number of times during our discussion, the device is the interface between the drug and the patient, and the packaging and peripherals are an extension of this.
“Medical devices are prescribed by doctors; patients don’t choose an inhaler or injector pen as they would a smartphone or tablet computer. There is usually a lot of anxiety and concern as patients get their heads around their treatment regime and of course the enormity of any condition that they have been diagnosed with. Anything that we can do to reduce this—even slightly—is well worth doing,” Greenhalgh concludes.