You know how when you give a two-year-old a present, she usually finds the box to be far more exciting than than the present inside? Well, here at Counsyl, we’ve been acting a little bit like toddlers lately. Yes, that’s right – we’re a cutting-edge genomics company that has gotten as excited about the cardboard box as the product that’s contained inside.
You might be wondering how this happened. You see, we’re committed to making our test as affordable as possible, so it’s accessible to everyone. Usually, we achieve this with developers who find more efficient ways to write code to analyze genetic data, and roboticists (yes, that’s a job here!) who re-engineer robots meant to build cars and use them to run our laboratory instead. But for this project it wasn’t just about making us more efficient internally; it was also important for us to improve the user experience for clinicians and patients.
It all started when we went out and saw how clinicians used our Counsyl Test in their day-to-day workflow. While most things were clearly working well, there was plenty of room for improvement. Here is a brief sampling of our observations:

  • The instruction cards we put in each box were useful when a clinician used our test for the first time, but the cards just got in the way once the clinician became an expert.
  • A patient ships their blood or saliva sample back to us in the exact same box we sent out the empty test tube in. The old design wasn’t particularly sturdy, like most cardboard boxes, and would occasionally require a few attempts to close it back up.
  • Space is at a premium in a doctor’s office, and small items can be stacked on a counter or tucked away in a nearby cabinet. Boxes that are too big are relegated to the closet – out of sight, out of mind.

User experience is a high priority at Counsyl, so we wanted to improve our box to make life easier for nurses and patients. At the same time, we wanted to make our package less expensive  in order to keep our test affordable. So, we did what any reasonable company would do: We asked our box vendor to give us a package design usually reserved for luxury products like wine and cosmetics. How can we reduce our costs using more expensive boxes? I’m glad you asked.

In true Counsyl fashion, we made it happen with a simple cost-benefit analysis. It turns out these fancier boxes are self-assembling and use magnets to stay together. (It’s seriously magical, just check out the video!) Not only are these boxes easier for nurses and patients to open and close, they are also easier to work with by our team in California, who hand assemble each box. We also removed the instruction cards from the kit and printed them directly onto the box, reducing the number of kit components and conserving resources.
Together, these clever design changes save everyone time, meaning patients get a happier nurse, our team has an easier time putting kits together, and everyone gets on with their day just a little bit faster. We’ve certainly come along way in our box designs – our current iteration is over 80% smaller than the first testing kit we ever shipped and is working better than ever.
We happen to be pretty proud of our new box. What do you think about it? Leave a comment and let us know.

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