What is the impact of sustainability in MedTech? An accurate healthcare industry overview must include sustainability as one of the key factors in innovation, manufacturing, and patient delivery.
We can define medical technology sustainability broadly as an effort to reduce the carbon footprint and lessen waste when medical devices are manufactured. Greener medical devices can be developed, but for this to happen successfully, sustainability needs to be more than an afterthought.
Flexan’s Flexacution method considers the entire aspect of production and bringing a medical device to market. This includes sustainability considerations. If you would like to discuss this in detail, reach out today.
Sustainable Medtech Companies Are the Future
Sustainability is not just a lofty goal, as regulatory requirements are also at play, as well as investor involvement. Rather, the reality is: medical devices must become more sustainable in order to remain viable, as an industry as a whole.
Beyond any mandated sustainability regulations, we may also see limitations on carbon footprints for medical devices in many RFP/tender processes.
Additionally, a new factor in the world of MedTech, ESG (environmental, social, and governance) scores, is becoming more critical for companies looking to boost company value. ESG in MedTech cannot be ignored. In short, if you want to make it to a global market, you have to consider sustainability.
The Challenges of Producing Sustainable Medical Devices
The increasing pressure of sustainability expectations means even more care and quality control are required for modern medical device manufacturing. For sustainability to be done correctly, it cannot be something considered late in the game. Several challenges face medical device manufacturers when implementing sustainability initiatives. These challenges include:
Choosing Safe, Sustainable Materials for Medical Devices
Medical technology advancements have inspired many powerful innovations, but technology can be toxic. From batteries to plastics, the materials that go into medical devices need to be carefully planned and thought through, so they are utilized safely and sustainably.
Supply Chain Issues for Medical Devices
The MedTech industry, like many other industries, is working to overcome supply chain challenges. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the supply chain has undergone major disruptions, and it has taken innovation and planning to find effective ways around this. Medtech supply chain issues may make it tempting to listen to cost reduction consultants to cut corners and use inferior materials or poorly sourced raw materials…but do not take the bait.
Sourcing materials from companies committed to sustainable sourcing should be prioritized. These materials are often higher quality anyway and will contribute to a more quality end product.
Lack of Sustainability Built into Current Processes
Another potential barrier to creating a more sustainable medical device product line could be the current processes used by the MedTech company. Because development cycles can be complex and often last years, inserting sustainability goals into existing processes might meet some resistance. Cost can also be a concern.
However, when you consider the costs of regulatory fines, missed opportunities, and lack of investor buy-in, prioritizing sustainability can pay off in ways that may not seem immediately apparent. Conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a first step in identifying where in the product development process sustainability can or should be implemented.
Finally, one of the key challenges with medical devices is that many of the products used become hazardous waste after contact with a patient. This poses a challenge for disposal and is a barrier to recycling.
How to Prioritize Sustainable Medical Device Development
The good news is you do not need to invest in a Department of Sustainable Development just to make your medical devices more carbon neutral and sustainable. Sustainability in medical device manufacturing can be achieved, however it takes a commitment that must be initiated as soon as the product is conceptualized.
Sustainability From the Start of the Process
As mentioned above, for MedTech products already in the pipeline, transitioning to a more sustainable production model might be challenging. Ideally, MedTech companies should institute eco-design and sustainability practices from day one, including product design, packaging, and manufacturing considerations.
Integrating Eco-design into the Product Development Process
Eco-design is all about ensuring that sustainability is an inherent part of the product and its development. Medical devices need to be safe and reliable, but they can also be green. The sustainability factors to consider can include: the size of product components; raw materials used, including any recycled materials; and manufacturing processes. They should design packaging to minimize waste and extraneous use of materials. Even inks used to print product information can be chosen for their green qualities.
Iterative Design Processes – the Flexacution Model
An iterative design process can help enable sustainability in MedTech product development. The point of an iterative process is to allow for adjustments to be made throughout each stage of the product lifecycle.
For example, our unique Flexacution process of design, develop, deliver, may seem simple on the surface, but it goes much deeper than a catchy slogan. We use this model to combine quality and engineering to enable innovation and best practices in product development and medical device manufacturing, as well as sustainability. We work cross-functionally to develop disciplined project plans that are able to meet strict regulatory requirements and quality metrics.
Make Your Medical Devices More Sustainable with Flexan
Sustainability is the future of medical device manufacturing. Flexan can help transition your company to a more sustainable future. As an expert in lift and shift manufacturing, our patented Flexacution method can help you create a sustainable product from the early design phase to bringing the medical device or component to market. We can guide you through the entire product development process to make sure that we achieved sustainability goals from start to finish.
Flexan has also recently attained the Bronze Level by EcoVadis placing us in the top 50% of companies seeking their ESG certification.
If you would like your medical device manufacturing to become more sustainable, partner with Flexan. We will prioritize sustainability right from the start of the early design phase. Contact us to get started.