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Should You Develop a Training Device for Your Next Product?

Training devices could be developed to help patients avoid errors during self treatment.

Joe Reynolds, research manager for Noble

Demand for training devices could see an uptick, and for good reason. A number of recently published studies show that use of a training device can have a positive impact on reducing patient errors. "Our studies have shown gains in patient confidence as well as reductions in anxiety," Joe Reynolds, research manager for Noble told Qmed. "These are key to reducing errors."

For instance, at the recent PDA conference, Noble shared research from a statistician from Auburn University that showed that "89% of users report a better understanding of a real injection when having a simulated syringe."

And in a separate study, participants were interviewed about their injection experiences and the potential value of training devices. One respondent said that "the training device takes the anxiety away," while another said of such a device: "Error correcting, it will let me know whether I am doing correctly. Make me feel more comfortable." (To read about these studies, please see "5 ways medical packaging can improve patient onboarding" published by sister publication Packaging Digest.)

Because of such potential benefits, "we've seen a growing demand for training devices," Reynolds told Qmed. "We've also seen the benefits and value of training devices increase."

Noble's "goal with training devices is to provide patients with the skills to manage their treatments," he explained. The company has developed a broad portfolio of training devices and onboarding solutions to support the use of autoinjectors as well as other forms of device delivery.

The company recently expanded its portfolio to include training devices for "on-body devices," he said. "We are also investigating new routes of therapeutic delivery." Noble's concepts are "fully functional," and the platforms can be customized to meet the needs of the drug or device manufacturers.

For instance, to support West Pharmaceuticals Services' SmartDose, which was recently highlighted at PDA, Noble developed a training device with "built-in sensors, hardware, and software to monitor patient behavior during the training process," he said. "If the patient does something out of sequence, the training device can notify patients through visual and audio feedback such as LEDs and spoken instructions."

In addition to monitoring, the training device can also log behavior and communicate it to off-board devices, such as a smartphone or package, he explains.

Chris Evans, vice president of research and innovation at West, stated in a recent news release: "Advancements in biologics coupled with the shift to patient self-care in the home setting has driven the need for self-injection systems. We work with customers and partners to optimize the experience of patients who self-inject in a way that increases affinity and fosters adherence to a treatment regimen. This collaboration with Noble, Insight Product Development, and HealthPrize Technologies enhances our patient-centric approach to drug delivery systems."

Reynolds told Qmed that "Delivery device development requires a holistic and user-centric philosophy, which includes considerations for training and onboarding. We've seen adoption increase and encourage developers to continue thinking about training devices early in design and development."

To help device companies develop training device concepts, Noble's team identifies user requirements and defines design inputs. "We collect user feedback through research and concept testing," he said. "Outputs from human factors engineering studies can also be used as inputs for our training device development. Knowing early on what errors can happen allows us to develop training devices that can mitigate those errors."

The company's approach to development is different depending upon the stakeholders, he added. "For instance, training devices for professional use need to be longer lasting and robust for use across patients," he said. "For therapeutics with wider dosing intervals, there is an increased risk of training decay, so we often evaluate technologies that can be applied to strengthen comprehension and recall. For many of these products, patients require follow-up training, and it becomes essential for patients to have convenient access to training at home."

Noble is "also looking for ways that training devices can complement digital health trends such as connected health devices," he added. "We've done a lot of work in different therapeutic areas and believe that developing the most optimal training device comes down to the unique needs of patients and other user populations. For some, connectivity makes sense; for others, it may not. So we help our customers answer the question, 'What type of training is best for our therapeutic?'"

The bottom line is that "disease management is very complex, and patients need training support," he said. "We feel that any drug product that requires a drug-delivery device and self-administration should have a training device."

To learn more about how to incorporate training devices into packaging, please see "5 ways medical packaging can improve patient onboarding" published by sister publication Packaging Digest.

Don't miss the "User-Centered Design" sessions at the upcoming MD&M Minneapolis Conference and Expo, November 8-9, 2017.

Daphne Allen is executive editor of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News and a contributor to MD&DI and Qmed. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter at @daphneallen 

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