08 Dec Charleston, SC Focus Group
Charleston, South Carolina — August 2011
The advanced wound care market has evolved over a number of years to encompass many different types of product. At the most basic level, there are thin-film polyurethane products that have been modified into combination dressings. With a thin film dressing used as a foundation, manufacturers have developed non-adherent pads, as well as islands of foam, gels or hydrocolloids.
Similarly, both basic hydrocolloids and foams have also been modified to provide healthcare providers with varying degrees of thickness, conformability and absorption. Furthermore, significant effort has been put into developing “patient friendly” adhesives that neither impact the performance characteristics of the dressing nor cause additional pain or trauma upon removal.
This plethora of features has provided healthcare providers with a vast catalog of advanced wound care products from which to select their dressing of choice. The various product specifications have also provided them with the ability to tailor a particular dressing to both the wound stage and anatomical position.
Therefore, prior to the introduction of any advanced wound care product line, it is paramount to understand the customer’s perception of their performance, features and benefits.
As MediPurpose has been in the process of introducing a new range of cost-effective wound care solutions, it initiated a focus group to evaluate product features and as a part of its product launch strategy.
A focus group was assembled, consisting of seven subject matter experts and an independent facilitator with extensive commercial experience of advanced wound care.
The seven experts were all involved in the treatment and management of incalcitrant, chronic and acute wounds on a day-to-day basis. All were RNs and certified CWOCN.
The participants were asked a number of questions and responded as follows:
What Are the Most Frequent Wound Types That You Treat?
* Diabetic ulcers
* Pressure ulcers
* Venous stasis ulcers
* Non-healing surgical wounds
What Are the Most Frequently Used Products in Your Daily Practice?
* Alginates (with and without silver)
* Compression bandages (stasis ulcers)
* Silver-impregnated foams and gels
What Role Does Price Have When Deciding Which Products to Use?
* Three respondents stated that price played a significant role in product selection.
* Three considered price a secondary role.
* One stated that, if a product performs better, then they would be willing to pay more for it (e.g., collagens, which were used as the example in this case).
Which Product Feature(s) Do You Consider as Essential?
* Patient comfort (e.g., adhesive properties create trauma upon removal)
* Wear time
What Product Feature(s) Are Considered as Unacceptable?
* Poor wear time
* Painful to remove
* Causes peri-wound maceration (ineffective absorption)
* Does not maintain structural integrity (e.g., falls apart upon removal leaving debris in the wound)
Who Are the Key Influencers for Wound Care Products at Your Site of Service?
* Participants stated that product review committees and the individual nurses in their practices generally make the decisions on which products are used. The group expressed a noticeable amount of resentment about decisions that are made in favor of corporate accounts rather than product preference.
* All respondents stated that if the MediPlus‰ã¢ Advanced Wound Care products to which they were being introduced could demonstrate the same clinical efficacy as brand name products, then price would become a compelling feature.
The group was also presented with examples of MediPlus Advanced Wound Care dressings in the following categories:
* Combination island dressings
* Polyurethane thin films
* Surgical dressings
Finally, participants were asked a questions about each dressing category, including:
* Do you like or dislike the packaging?
* What are your initial impressions of the product?
* Based upon your initial impressions, is the product acceptable or unacceptable?
* Would you use and/or recommend MediPlus?
All participants liked the packaging design and found it easy to open.
Overall impressions of the individual products were very favorable. The products received a positive response to the question of use and recommendation 77 percent of the time.
Fifty percent of any negative response to the same question was due to the fact that one particular dressing was viewed as more useful in an acute care/surgical setting.
Any remaining negative response were primarily driven by a perception that the strength of the adhesives being used to affix the dressings may be too aggressive, and may cause pain and increased trauma upon removal.
It was very apparent that adhesive strength was of primary importance to caregivers when they consider a choice of dressing. It was also interesting to note that further discussion of this topic centered on the ideal level of adhesion required to achieve the desired wear time, but at the same time, to “do no harm.”
Further, it was recognized that dressings need to be evaluated for their adhesive characteristics by studying this feature in a clinical situation throughout the desired interval of use.
Merely placing a dressing on normal skin and removing it very quickly would in all probability result in the impression that the adhesive is too strong. Rather, the dressing needs to be exposed to the wound care environment over a normal treatment period and then judged for its adhesion characteristics upon removal.
It was also recognized in the discussion that an adhesive that appeared comfortable in a short-term test might very likely have insufficient adhesive properties to stay in place for the duration of the desired treatment period.
As expected, quality was also considered a very important attribute. Participants expressed a concern that all too often, low-cost alternatives to brand leaders fail to perform as required. In this economy, the availability of a high-quality yet economical brand was considered very compelling.
In general, the participants indicated that if available to them, they would consider using some — if not all — of the MediPlus dressings they evaluated.
Quality — along with ease of use, application and breadth of offering — was viewed as good. It should be noted, however, that all participants would welcome the opportunity to evaluate products in the clinical setting before making definitive decisions.
MediPurpose recognizes that access to samples for such testing is an integral part of building the reputation of its products. As such, a sampling program has been put place for all the products it brings to market.