By Joe Reynolds
Healthcare providers are able to treat complex and chronic diseases better than ever before thanks to continued innovations in treatment options—but unfortunately for some patients who are uncomfortable with needles, some advanced treatments are required to be injected at home. This poses an additional challenge for healthcare providers to not only help quell patient reluctance and anxiety with the prospect of injections but also to ensure continued patient compliance once patients are on their own.
Needle anxiety can be a roadblock
Research studies have illustrated what many clinicians may have long suspected: The more self-confidence a patient feels regarding self-injection, the more likely they are to adhere to their schedule for self-injection and perform it properly. As such, it’s vital to work with patients at the start of their “onboarding” period—i.e. the first 30 to 90 days of self-injection—to demonstrate proper self-injection technique. But certain shortcomings need to be addressed. Current face-to-face training sessions are usually relatively brief, with patients expected to absorb a great deal of information quickly. Also, once patients are home alone, they may not recall the proper injection method, risking their safety and potentially failing to deliver the proper dose. And if they are naturally fearful of needles, they may decide to skip their treatment altogether.
In this regard, self-injection trainers, such as those developed by Noble International, Inc., have shown to be useful. These trainers can be designed to simulate the appearance, sound and feel of actual prefilled syringes and autoinjectors in minute detail, giving patients the experience of self-injecting without actual dosing. The result has been the development of a line of patient-centric training devices that “inject” an extensive level of realism into the onboarding process.
According to one study conducted by Noble, 64 percent of users reported that having a training device to practice with at home would help decrease their anxiety; 89 percent reported it would be very important to have the most realistic training possible and 87 percent reported it is important to have a simulation needle tip that closely simulates the real thing. Finally, 89 percent of users reported a better understanding of a real injection when having a simulated syringe. In another study, 90 percent of patients rated the value of utilizing a training device as 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10, with 74 percent of patients reporting in hindsight that they should have used a training device when learning how to self-inject.
New technology helps doctors help self-injecting patients
In light of these findings, Noble has sought to advance the state-of-the-art of self-injection trainers by incorporating cutting-edge technology into its lineup of prefilled syringe and autoinjector trainers.
These autoinjector trainers and prefilled syringe trainers incorporate a range of high-tech features. These include the ability to replicate the viscosity of liquid drugs and plunger speed, which helps patients become familiar with glide forces. The new devices also provide adjustable audible feedback that mimics the sound of an actual drug delivery device. They additionally incorporate the realistic feel of an actual injector tip on the skin. Proprietary needle simulation, including ball tip, encased and agitator options, are designed to simulate the feel and forces involved in an injection. Separately, the company also offers a syringe angle aid training tool, designed as a safe and effective way for patients to learn the correct angle for subcutaneous injection using a precisely measured channel as a guide.
Noble has also developed “smart” adherence device accessories that can do even more to ensure that patients are performing their self-injections in the proper manner and can let them know immediately if there is a problem. These automated devices are reusable and configured to work with drug delivery devices to detect and monitor each step of a self-injection—and wirelessly collect data as the procedure is taking place. They can provide the patient with everything from reminders to error messages that pop up on a phone or tablet. The result of using these devices is that many apprehensive patients might feel more confident, as if a nurse were in the room to oversee their self-injections.
Helping patients who need to start a self-injection treatment program feel confident is one of the best things healthcare providers can do for patient onboarding. With its cutting-edge advances in self-injection trainers, Noble provides an important resource for healthcare professionals to aid patient compliance—not only in the office, but also at home.
Joe Reynolds is Research Manager of Noble International Inc., a developer of patient-centric, advanced drug delivery system trainers custom-built for the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies and original equipment manufacturers.