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Are Patients Satisfied with Eco-Friendly Cold-Chain Packaging?

Cold-chain packaging represents a great deal of cost and environmental impact. Eco-friendly packaging could reduce both.

Many of the medications carried in specialty pharmacies for complex disease states require refrigeration, and maintaining a certain temperature is important to ensure patient safety as well as the medication efficacy. Many pharmacies use cardboard boxes, insulation, and ice packs to help get these medications safely to customers, but this system packs both a cost and environmental wallop. A poster presented by Madelyn E. Harvey, PharmD, MBA, CTTS, a pharmacy resident at WVU Medicine in Morgantown, West Virginia, at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 2022 Summer Meetings and Exhibition in Phoenix, Arizona looked at whether patient satisfaction could be maintained with delivery method that was more eco-friendly.

The study examined 2 delivery methods used at 1 health-system pharmacy in West Virginia: an individual box with insulation and ice packs vs a reusable insulated container that was able to store multiple individually wrapped packages. Medications were delivered either via couriers associated with the health system or UPS. Any patient who received a medication using cold-chain packaging from the pharmacy was considered eligible for the study and was assigned to 1 of 2 groups based on delivery service. Patients completed a survey via telephone that included both demographic information and ratings on the preferred delivery method.

There were 101 respondents, 61 of whom were women; 84 participants used a medication linked to the specialty pharmacy’s inflammatory disease state team. The health-system courier deliveries were categorized into 9 different pre-determined routes within a 3-hour radius of Morgantown.

Sixty patients said that they preferred the eco-friendly packaging, while 16 indicated that they liked the conventional packaging, and 25 stated that they had no preference. A large majority of the patients rated their satisfaction with the eco-friendly packaging as 5/5 or “very satisfied” and no patient went below the 3/5 or neutral rating. Thirty-eight of the patients received their medications through both couriers and UPS. An equal number of patients(17) either preferred the courier or had no preference, and just 4 preferred UPS.

Overall, patients were happy with eco-friendly packaging and preferred it to conventional methods, which led to less bulk waste.

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“Patients have an increased preference of the health-system owned couriers compared to UPS,” Harvey concluded. “This is attributed to maintained courier relationships and trust in ensuring timely delivery with proper temperature.” Combining courier delivery and eco-friendly packaging could lead to better patient satisfaction.

Reference

Harvey ME. Patient satisfaction of delivery methods and eco-friendly cold-chain packaging for medication deliveries at one health-system specialty pharmacy. Presented at:American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 2022 Summer Meetings and Exhibition; June 11-15, 2022; Phoenix, AZ. Poster 41-T.


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