Recently, I had the pleasure of virtually interviewing five operating room scrub nurses. I interviewed them as a part of our new video series, PackTalk: Nurses Speak Up. The goal of these interviews was to get real, honest feedback from healthcare professionals who open medical packaging every day. And that is exactly what we got!
The inspiration for PackTalk: Nurses Speak Up came from popular nurse panels and nurse focus groups across the medical packaging industry. It was exciting to take a deeper dive into better understanding the integral role packaging plays before, during, and after a procedure. During these interviews, we were able to hear firsthand how packaging can be used as a part of a procedure and how truly important package design is for aseptic presentation. We were also reminded how small operating room tables are and how keeping devices organized and sterile is imperative. To hear the nurses speak about how packaging can help relieve stress or frustration for everyone in the room, reminded me that we have to keep the end users in mind when designing packaging.
Developing the Series
When we started to develop this series, first and foremost, we wanted to get feedback from a diverse and reputable group of nurses. It was important to us to avoid groupthink, recruit nurses from around the country, and with varied experiences and backgrounds. AORN, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, became the perfect partner to select our panel of nurses.
Once we had selected the nurses, we developed a series of questions to ask each nurse about their first impressions regarding sterility, usability, aseptic transfer, sustainability, storage, and more. Their individual, unique responses solidified themes about packaging – some themes we’ve known for years, and others were new! Often, when nurse feedback is solicited, it can be in the form of a technical usability study or something very simple, such as filling out a survey; this series is somewhere in the middle. Nothing in the videos is changed or edited to fit a narrative. It is true, authentic feedback.
One of my favorite things about this project was the applicability in our industry. In the medical packaging industry, nurse panels are always extremely valuable and necessary, but are often done in person. Using this approach, to garner feedback through video, can open the door to execute usability studies, design validations, and gather voice of the customer in our current climate and in the future to meet regulatory requirements. We have been fortunate during this time to find other avenues to gather genuine feedback without jeopardizing the health and safety of others.
Takeaways and Surprises
Throughout these interviews, one of the biggest surprises to me was the passion and knowledge from some of the nurses around the topic of sustainability. While I am aware sustainability in medical packaging is picking up steam and often discussed in industry forums, I was encouraged to hear it be top of mind for many of the nurses. We asked each nurse to walk us through how they would dispose of the packaging, expecting most to respond with, “throw in the trash.” However, I was quite surprised by the broad spectrum of responses we received. We had nurses who were very knowledgeable and creating grass roots efforts in their hospitals to ensure recycling programs were being supported or developed and other nurses who did not seem to be aware of any programs within their hospitals.
“The varied responses around the importance of sustainable packaging goes to show the disparity among hospitals, among states with recycling programs, and the need to standardize that across the board.”
This experience was unlike any other feedback forum I’ve seen. It was a true honor to not only hear and see how the nurses reacted and opened the packaging, but to get to know them individually and thank them for everything they do, especially given today’s healthcare environment. The feedback we received was truly authentic and reiterated to me just how important packaging is when it’s protecting a medical device.
VIEW THE FULL VIDEO SERIES, PACKTALK: NURSES SPEAK UP