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Live the Life of an IV Start Kit

June 23, 2011 – 11:28 am

daphne_111610happyThis October 5-6, Michigan State University (MSU) and Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging will once again host the Healthcare Packaging Immersion Experience (HcPIE), a unique program that simulates healthcare practitioners’ experiences as they interact with packaging. In this year’s program, attendees will be able to witness package use during simulated ambulance procedures as well as those in the operating room and emergency department.

Packaging will also play a heightened role this year in a special video to be shown at the event, “The Incredible Journey,” which will tell the story behind an IV start kit, from its creation through to its use and disposal. “We felt there would be value in showing all the players in the supply chain that add value to an IV product,” explains Laura Bix, PhD, associate professor of MSU’s School of Packaging. “It may seem to be a simple device, but a complex process exists to bring that product to the bedside.”

To capture the life of such a kit, the HcPIE team added a “spy camera” to the package to film its journey along the supply chain. The idea of “The Incredible Journey” and an embedded camera came to Jane Severin, PhD, vice president of technology for Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging, after her daughter had received an interesting gift for her cat: a camera for the cat to wear on its collar for capturing the cat’s point of view. Severin suggested that the team put similar technology to use to capture the supply chain from the package’s point of view.

Bix expects that view to be quite telling. “Marketing typically sits between packaging professionals and healthcare providers, so packaging professionals may only get details on hospital handling needs through marketing. We want to get some of those details to packagers and hope to provide insight into storage, handling, and use situations,” explains Bix. “We not only want to provide these insights, but also make note of opportunities for packaging as a tool for improving efficiencies, particularly those related to issues that tie in with tracking and use,” Bix explains.

The HcPIE team will also be using a special eye-tracking camera (which Bix’s students have used before to study prescription and OTC drug label reading) to make note of what material handlers or pickers see in hospital central receiving and processing departments. High-definition cameras will be used in these settings as well as in hospital storage and use settings to capture the entire scene, Bix reports.

The team will be looking at kit assembly and packaging operations, too. Filming of Tyvek coating and printing operations at Oliver-Tolas has already taken place, for instance. Bix also hopes to include the supply chain for some of the kit components, but that often begins overseas, she notes. Sterilization processes, too, could be filmed.

Bix expects that studying the IV start kit’s “journey” could tie in nicely with another highlight of the upcoming program: a presentation by Jay Crowley, senior advisor for patient safety at FDA. Crowley is involved in building the tracking system behind Unique Device Identification.

HcPIE’s two-day program will bring together medical device companies and healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, hospital purchasing, medical supply chain, and risk assessment professionals, in addition to US FDA, National Center for Patient Safety and medical packaging experts, including Oliver-Tolas and MSU’s School of Packaging, as well as educators from MSU’s Learning and Assessment Center (LAC), which serves the Colleges of Human Medicine, Nursing, Osteopathic Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine. For details, visit

Last year I was captivated with the OR and ED simulations and felt like I was living through each simulation. (Yes, I even began worrying about one of the human simulators and had to remind myself that his head injury was only a simulation!)

This year’s “The Incredible Journey” promises to add to such riveting content. I cannot wait to see what the package sees, although I might close my eyes if I see the heat-seal platen approaching.

Daphne Allen

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