Don’t you find it frustrating when someone gives you a gift that’s wrapped with more tape than wrapping paper? We all know that the way we package things is vital to make a good impression. However, when it comes to pharmacy packaging there’s more at stake than simply looking nice. Here, Dale Pittock, sales director of Valley Northern, explains why packaging really does matter.
Both community and hospital pharmacists are under a lot of pressure to meet regulatory, budgetary and time expectations. It’s easy to understand why the choice of which medicine carton or bag to order, falls to the bottom of the priority list. However, getting packaging right can actually improve efficiency, patient safety and save money.
Box it up
Medicine cartons come in all shapes and sizes. While they are a stockroom staple for any pharmacy, patients and pharmacists alike can overlook the simple ways tablet cartons can improve patient safety and boost efficiency.
Many pharmacists select plain white boxes, but while this can save a little money on initial costs, they can cost more in the long run. By comparison, a carton that is branded clearly pharmacy medication with dedicated space for labels could be a life saver.
By selecting packaging, like ProBox from Valley Northern, pharmacies can be assured the vital medications they are dispensing to customers is clearly distinguishable from other boxed goods. Including the word ‘prescription’ on a carton, while being a seemingly obvious inclusion, can often be overlooked by packaging providers, yet can help patients, particularly the elderly, keep their vital medications in check.
Other simple additions to carton design, like including a pre-defined space for labels that give administrative or storage instructions, can make a real difference in patient safety. Including strong lock-ends to reduce the packaging accidentally opening and medication being lost also helps keep patients safe in their medication administration.
Patients often take multiple boxes of medication away from the pharmacy, particularly after long stays in hospital. Giving these patients bags to carry their medication home in allows for easy transportation and reduces the risk of medications being misplaced in transit.
Additionally, many patients may be concerned about confidentiality when taking their medication home, maybe on public transport. Yet, many of the medication bag suppliers are recognising the importance of patient privacy and have begun to develop opaque bags, rather than the traditional transparent variety.
Dedicated medication and healthcare bags, like the ProPac range from Valley Northern, are not only easy and safe to use, with their ergonomic carry handles and safety holes, which helps avoid suffocation risks with children, but they are also an extension of the pharmacy’s communication with the patient.
Specialised medication bags also allow pharmacists to place storage instructions on the bag without the risk of them peeling or falling off, leaving patients unclear and at risk if medication is incorrectly stored.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), an average of 2.7 million items are dispensed from pharmacies in England every day. Physically storing the variety of boxes and bags that this quantity of medication requires can prove to be a logistical nightmare.
Opting for packaging suppliers who not only think about patient safety, but operational efficiencies too will significantly help save space and keep your pharmacy running smoothly.
Many providers, like Valley Northern, offer dedicated dispenser systems to their packing supplies that help to keep tablet cartons and bags neatly organised on counter tops, separating different sizes to help bring time saving opportunities to the staff administering the medications.
These dispensers not only keep the workspace neat and tidy and avoid pharmacy teams being flustered when trying to source the right size box or bag, it also helps pharmacy managers keep track of stock levels to ensure there are enough supplies to meet demand. Some dispensers, like the ProBox carton dispenser, even come with handy product code labels to help with the reordering process.
While some pharmacist teams may perceive the medication packaging that they send patients home with is a means to an end, there are many ways that this packaging can help increase patient safety. It can extend communication between the pharmacist and the patient and provide impressive cost savings and time efficiencies ─ all without a roll of tape and wrapping paper in sight.