Given the scale of public spending in Europe, sustainable procurement is a strategic opportunity for healthcare purchasers to achieve environmental and sustainable development objectives as well as foster innovation. Accounting for approximately 10% of EU GDP, the healthcare sector can play a significant role in influencing markets.
One of HCWH Europe’s overarching goals is to leverage the healthcare sector’s purchasing power to drive policies and markets towards ethically produced, non-toxic, and sustainable products and services. We support healthcare organisations to make responsible purchasing decisions and move towards value-based procurement, reducing the overall cost of care whilst guaranteeing both human and environmental health and social justice throughout the supply chain.
Objectives of the network
With the creation of the Healthcare Market Transformation Network, we will address the need for harmonised sustainable procurement criteria, tailored to products and services purchased by the healthcare sector.
Each healthcare product poses various sustainability concerns throughout its lifecycle. Drafting holistic sustainability criteria to address these sustainability issues requires expertise and solutions in:
- Antimicrobial resistance
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Products disposal/end of life
- Raw materials
- Use of resources (water, energy, etc.)
- Workers’ rights and occupational health
The network will facilitate dialogue amongst procurers, health professionals, suppliers, and recyclers, and identify opportunities for sustainable and innovative solutions.
By aggregating demand across a European network, using standardised product criteria and systematic identification of lower impact and safer alternatives, HCWH Europe aims to transform the healthcare sector’s supply chain to yield co-benefits for patients, the environment, and wider society.
In the long term, the harmonisation of sustainable procurement criteria across countries will lead to an increased demand for sustainable products (considering life-cycle assessments and circularity principles), giving a clear signal to the market and eventually reducing costs.
Transforming markets: Process
Following a preliminary member consultation and in line with HCWH Europe’s programmatic focus, we have prioritised the following thematic areas for 2021-2025:
- Food services
- Low-carbon solutions
- Medical textiles
Building on the successful examples in the Nordic countries, the network will feature working groups comprising hospital and public procurement staff, clinicians, sector/product experts, academics, and representatives from environmental/sustainability NGOs. To ensure feasibility and further create opportunities for innovation, HCWH Europe will consult with industry representatives.
See below for more information on eligibility for the working groups and industry consultation.
HCWH Europe will facilitate regular meetings to establish working groups’ priorities and strategies as well as map out existing work by members to build and share experiences. The working groups will then follow these steps:
- Prioritise products - Working groups will jointly select the healthcare products for which they would like to create harmonised sustainable public procurement criteria. This process involves a literature review and/or procurement surveys. For example, in 2020, the HMTN prioritised disinfectants and examination gloves; other protective clothing such as gowns will be addressed in 2021.
- Identify sustainability issues - Once products for prioritisation have been selected, the working groups will map the specific sustainability issues in relation to the chosen products.
- Market research and identify best practice - best practice, pilot projects, and potential solutions already available on the market will be assessed by members of the working groups.
- Draft criteria and innovation gaps - it is challenging to identify workable cross-country criteria, so the working group will define harmonised baseline criteria that procurers can adapt according to their needs. For example, the group can define disinfectants’ ingredient composition, but each procurer might request country-specific certifications for product efficacy in their criteria.
Industry feedback and market dialogue
The draft criteria will be presented to industry representatives to assess feasibility and identify innovation gaps. This will also be an opportunity to discuss hospitals’ common unmet needs and innovation gaps in the market.
Harmonised sustainable procurement criteria
Final product specifications will be endorsed by the working group members and translated into select European languages to facilitate wider adoption. These product specifications, to be made publicly available on the HCWH Europe website, will be ready to use/adapted for health procurers’ needs.
Joint statement of demand
Members of the working group will endorse the criteria and express interest in embedding these in their future procurement processes.
Procurement criteria, common unmet needs, and innovation gaps will all be presented at an annual Market Transformation Workshop to foster dialogue amongst health procurers, clinicians, suppliers, producers, and recyclers. This collaboration and information exchange will help catalyse the development of sustainable healthcare products and could lead to new pilot projects for testing sustainable solutions.
This Europe-wide network provides an opportunity to collaborate and learn from shared experiences and challenges, offering a unique insight from both industry and the healthcare sector.
By identifying common needs, aligning procurement demands, and aggregating purchasing power, public authorities can create a bigger market for sustainable innovations and achieve cost efficiencies.
Join a working group
Participation in the working groups is open to:
- Representatives from members of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) network (or organisations willing to join GGHH)
- e.g. facility managers, chemists, hygienists, hospital sustainability managers, researchers, etc.
- Members of HCWH Europe’s Doctors for Greener Healthcare network
- Signatories to the Nurses Climate Challenge Europe
- Sector/product experts
- Representatives from environmental or sustainability NGOs
The estimated time commitment for working group members will vary depending on your availability and area of expertise; the minimum expected requirement will be two hours per month preparing/attending regular calls and 1-2 days to prepare for/attend the annual Market Innovation Workshops. The application form includes a question about your commitment/capacity.
Industry representatives (e.g. suppliers, manufacturers, recyclers, business associations as well as manufacturers of healthcare products) can register their interest in the consultation process. The majority of communication is expected via email, but representatives will also be invited to participate in annual Market Innovation Workshops (a physical or virtual event) a commitment of 1-2 days per year.