The circular economy is the concept of keeping resources in use for as long as possible through their recovery and re-use. The Guardian newspaper recently hosted a live chat on how circular economy principles might be taken up by the healthcare sector. Seigo Robinson joined in for Oakdene Hollins.

Discussion ranged from not over-specifying equipment and drugs, through buying services rather than goods and finding ways of sharing medical equipment, to exploring the use of remanufactured equipment and making sure that equipment is designed to be optimally serviceable over the longest possible life, to disposing of unwanted goods thoughtfully and appropriately.

Design for longevity

Seigo's point was that purchasers have to change the way they specify and procure healthcare equipment, but so do the manufacturers making and selling it. He talked of the need for multi-disciplinary teams, "to ensure that designers talk to manufacturers and to maintenance and repair folk, and also hopefully users too."

There is currently very little flow of information back up a manufacturing chain. "This will need to change if equipment is to be properly designed for a circular economy, where it's optimised for serviceability, configuration and reusability," the Guardian article quotes.

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