Given the scale of public spending in Europe, sustainable procurement is a strategic opportunity for healthcare purchasers to achieve environmental and sustainable development objectives. Accounting for approximately 10% of EU GDP, the healthcare sector can play a significant role in influencing markets.
One of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe’s overarching goals is to leverage the healthcare sector’s purchasing power to drive policies and markets towards ethically produced, healthy, and sustainable products and services.
HCWH Europe supports healthcare organisations to make responsible purchasing decisions and mobilise a shift towards value-based procurement, reducing the overall cost of care whilst guaranteeing both human and environmental health and social justice throughout the entire supply chain.
With the creation of the Healthcare Market Transformation Network, HCWH Europe aims to address the need for harmonised sustainable procurement criteria that are tailored to products and services purchased by the healthcare sector. The network will also help facilitate dialogue amongst procurers, health professionals, suppliers, and recyclers.
By aggregating demand across a European network, using standardised product criteria and systematic identification of lower impact and safer alternatives (considering life-cycle assessments and circularity principles), HCWH Europe aims to transform the healthcare sector’s supply chain to yield co-benefits for patients, the environment, and wider society.
Transforming markets: process
- Product prioritisation - following a preliminary member consultation, HCWH Europe has prioritised the following product categories, and identified the need for related working groups:
- Working groups - building on the successful examples of the National Substitution Group of Sweden and the informal Nordic Collaboration Working Group, working groups will be established comprising hospital and public procurers (existing and candidate HCWH members) sector/product experts, academics, and representatives from environmental/sustainability NGOs.
Working groups will also have an opportunity to consult a reference group of industry representatives, in order to receive feedback on feasibility and opportunities for innovation. See below for more information.
After recruiting working group members, HCWH Europe will organise regular calls to agree on the group’s priorities and strategy and map out existing work by members to build and share experiences. The working groups will also directly support the process:
- Define sustainable products - identify common high-purchasing impact opportunities
- Draft harmonised sustainable procurement criteria - identifying workable cross-country criteria can be challenging, so the working group will define harmonised baseline criteria that procurers can adapt according to their needs (e.g. the group can define disinfectants’ ingredient composition, but each procurer might request country-specific certifications for product efficacy in their criteria).
- Market research and dialogue - the draft criteria will be presented to the Reference Group to test feasibility and identify innovation gaps. This will also be an opportunity to:
- Discuss and identify hospitals’ common unmet needs
- Innovation workshop - market research findings will be presented at a market transformation workshop to foster dialogue amongst health procurers, clinicians, suppliers, producers, and recyclers to catalyse the development of sustainable healthcare products.
- Standard procurement criteria - final product specifications will be endorsed by the working groups members and translated into five European languages to facilitate wider adoption. These product specifications will be publicly available on HCWH Europe’s website and ready to use/be adapted for health procurers’ needs.
In the long term, the harmonisation of sustainable procurement criteria across countries will lead to an increased demand for sustainable products, give a clear signal to the market, and eventually reduce costs.
The estimated time commitment for working group members will vary depending on your availability and expertise. The registration form (below) includes a question about expected commitment/capacity. The minimum expected requirement will be one hour per month preparing/attending the regular calls and 1-2 days to prepare/attend the annual Innovation Workshops.
The working group is open to HCWH Europe members or healthcare employees and public procurement professionals from organisations willing to join HCWH Europe e.g. hygienist, hospital sustainability managers, researchers, etc. Sector/product experts, academics, and representatives from environmental or sustainability NGOs are also welcome.
If you are eligible to join a working group and would like to participate, please fill out this online form.
The reference group will be an informal network; the majority of communication is expected via email, members will also be invited to participate in annual Innovation Workshops (a commitment of 1-2 days per year).
The reference group is open to private sector representatives e.g. suppliers, manufacturers, recyclers, business associations as well as manufacturers of the relevant product categories.
If you are eligible to join the reference group and would like to participate, please fill out this online form.
This Europe-wide network provides an opportunity to share and learn from experiences and challenges, and to obtain a unique insight into other industry/healthcare sector perspectives. 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.
[i] In 2020, the disinfectants work will focus on the harmonisation of sustainable procurement criteria for hospital routine disinfection products. For medical textiles and devices, we will first focus on mapping and prioritising hazardous chemicals of concern to be reduced or phased out through procurement criteria as well as researching potential alternatives.
[ii] In 2020, the working group will focus on better understanding of how to increase efficiency in waste segregation and classification as well as how to improve treatment and disposal of healthcare waste (non-incineration treatment technologies vs. incineration).