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Via Innovations keeping it local and supporting a more sustainable post-COVID business environment

Tuesday 16 June 2020Canterbury DHB News4 minutes to read

Medsalv's Oliver Hunt and Chris Gillan from the Sustainable Business Network

Medsalv's Oliver Hunt and Chris Gillan from the Sustainable Business Network

How Via Innovations is helping keep it local and supporting a more sustainable post-COVID business environment

While people managed life under COVID Alert Levels 3 and 4, the health sector was under huge pressure and the demands being made of the health system were unprecedented.

Canterbury and West Coast DHB’s Chief Digital Officer and Executive Sponsor for Via Innovations, Stella Ward says it is during such times of extraordinary stress that people are most likely to think outside the square because ‘what we usually do’ no longer applies.

“When a health-related event as disruptive as a pandemic hits the health sector, it is a time for the creatives, for the innovators and those best able to adapt quickly. For them, a major system-shock like COVID-19 also creates new opportunities.”

“Take for example Medsalv, a business that was developed specifically to reduce waste and stretch the health dollar further. Add that Medsalv is New Zealand-based, and that it reduces reliance on now unstable overseas supply chains – and you have a winning formula for these challenging COVID-19 times.”

After proving the concept and delivering savings and reduced waste as promised, Medsalv has now secured a long-term contract with Canterbury DHB, through Via Innovations.

Via Innovations is a specialist business unit within the DHB that helps people with health innovations develop viable products or services, and provides the expertise and investment needed to commercialise them.

Via’s Innovation Director, Anya Hornsey, says that any new device or service that will be used in a hospital environment requires detailed planning and robust testing to ensure appropriate safety, quality and performance standards will be met.

“Medsalv continue to deliver on their promise of reducing both costs and waste, without compromising the high quality and safety standards required of medical devices,” says Anya.

Medsalv’s founder and CEO, Oliver Hunt, says the business initially targeted high volume, high cost, non-invasive single-use devices which can be cleaned and tested using processes comparable to or even more stringent than those used by the original manufacturer. One example is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) compression sleeves that are used in conjunction with reusable pumps to prevent DVT.

“Our focus has always been on reducing waste and the cost to the health system by getting more uses from each device – and at the end of their usable lives, ensuring they are separated into recyclable components, so much less waste eventually ends up in landfill,” Oliver says.

Savings to date are fast approaching $100,000 for Canterbury DHB, and Medsalv has more recently been working with New Zealand’s leading private hospitals, such as MercyAscot, to deliver more sustainable healthcare. As some items have been reused as many as six to eight times, the quantity of new products ordered has reduced by the same volume.

That also means tonnes of used products that would once have gone to landfill have instead been recycled – a win-win for the health system and the environment.

People are still finding some items are in short supply, or available only at a premium price, and the fact that everything is taking much longer to deliver, especially products that come from overseas. Businesses are having the same experience.

However, you can’t get more local than Medsalv – who offer the same product at a reduced cost, generate less waste, and are helping break New Zealand’s dependence on overseas medical equipment suppliers.

“Medsalv also provides jobs here in New Zealand, rather than halfway around the world – and any investment in Medsalv – like the Waste Minimisation Grant made by the Ministry for the Environment in 2019 – stays right here in New Zealand. In the current COVID-19 business climate the benefits of reusing items increase – we are ensuring our supplies of scarce or unavailable items last longer. Where items have gone up in price, the savings are even greater than before.”

Although based on a winning idea, with the drive to make it work, Medsalv credits its success to support from early backers including Canterbury DHB’s Via Innovations Unit. Via Innovations provided commercialisation expertise, alongside other supporters including the University of Canterbury, the Sustainable Initiatives Fund/Trust, Canterbury DHB, and MercyAscot hospitals.

“These organisations had the vision to support us getting our concept off the ground. I’m extremely proud that we’ve been able to deliver on our promises of reduced cost and waste, and to have created significant savings for each hospital we’re working with,” Oliver says.                                                                                 

To find out more visit Medsalv.com

Learn more about Canterbury DHB’s Via Innovations Unit

To read about other devices that can be re-used or recycled visit Commonly reprocessed medical devices

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Page last updated: 17 June 2020

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