Are single-use endoscopes sustainable?
The sustainability question can be viewed through two lenses, according to Bassel Rifai, the chief marketing officer at Ambu A/S, a Danish company that develops and produces single-use endoscopes.
One is health economic sustainability, the other is environmental sustainability.
Health economic sustainability is measured by comparing the cost-per-use of single-use endoscopes against their reusable counterparts, Rifai explained. To achieve that sustainability metric, Ambu aims to price its scopes to be on par with reusable devices on a cost-per-procedure basis, he said, citing the hidden costs associated with reusable ones.
These include hospital readmissions, which a recent study found could be cut in half by performing bronchoscopies with single-use bronchoscopes.
Comparing the environmental impact of single-use versus reusable endoscopes can be challenging since there is no clear way to measure the harm caused by reprocessing. Single-use’s environmental impact, by contrast, is “very tangible … It’s right there in the bin,” Rifai said.
“Reprocessing involves a technician who puts on a bunch of single-use protective equipment, they use a bunch of single-use chemicals to process it, they use single-use brushes and other tools to clean it,” he added. “It’s just not present there in the endoscopy suite for everyone to see, but it’s very, very present for the environment.”
By the end of the reprocessing process, “you have basically a trash bag” full of single-use equipment needing to be discarded.
For much more from Rifai — including the many factors that led to the development of the first single-use flexible endoscope in 2009, and how healthcare finance and technological innovation are driving a single-use transition — click here for the CM Conversations episode. The podcast is produced by Charlton Morris, a UK-based med-tech recruiting agency.
Single-Use Endoscopy is an Ambu Inc. learning center.
Listen to the podcast episode below: