The Life Cycle of Radiation Oncology Equipment
The Life Cycle of Radiation Oncology Equipment Should Be Circular, Not Linear
It’s an exciting moment to be a radiation oncology professional… Now, more than ever before, cutting-edge techniques have the power to save patients’ lives and reduce the worst symptoms of their cancer. Improved medical equipment is a major force driving these advances: New advances like MRI-guided linear accelerators and 3-D printed boluses have made it possible to deliver precisely targeted radiation therapy, and advanced imaging equipment has empowered oncologists to deploy adaptive techniques that were once impossible.
However, the rewards of better patient outcomes come with new challenges, and the transition from old medical equipment to new is one of them. Disposing of older radiation oncology equipment is often a more complicated enterprise than many hospitals expect, and in a climate where environmental sustainability is at the forefront of individuals’ minds, professionals want sustainable solutions.
Tackling this 21st-century sustainability challenge requires innovative thinking and entirely new business models—and ROS has risen to the test by enacting a unique circular life cycle for radiation oncology equipment. A circular life cycle refers to a streamlined recycling process in which unwanted linear accelerators is reused elsewhere, before eventually being remade and recycled as it reaches the end of its useful life.
If effectively recycling radiation oncology equipment is so beneficial, then why isn’t it in use everywhere?
Manufacturers of linear accelerators have recently adopted policies of destroying or scrapping used equipment for a variety of reasons. They prefer to focus their engineers on maintaining new models with more advanced software vs. older systems.
We understand that teaching technicians to service old equipment can be daunting, especially when they must also master different knowledge for newer devices. However, there are still many highly qualified engineers who can keep older equipment in service for years or even decades without incident. At ROS, we have never struggled to find engineers who meet our high standards for experience and reliability.
Without the help of manufacturers, the burden of finding a sustainable way to dispose of equipment like linacs often falls on hospitals and local contractors. In some cases, this works well–but in others, delegating equipment disposal to non-specialists can result in liability and regulatory risk. We applaud hospitals’ efforts, but the medical equipment industry needs to take a more proactive role in making our products sustainable and creating an accessible recycling ecosystem for equipment.
The Solution: A Circular Economy for Radiation Oncology Equipment
A circular economy for linear accelerators and other durable medical equipment will help prevent pollution–but it also has real benefits for underserved populations around the world. Radiation is used for over 50% of cancer patients in the US, and it is considered the “standard of care” for many cancer patients. That’s true in developing countries, too, where cancer patients need high-quality radiation equipment just as much as American ones do.
A linear accelerator or other piece of medical equipment may have outlived its usefulness at one hospital, but it might be sorely needed elsewhere. In Latin America, there is even a linac in operation today that has been in use since the 1970s. When it is decommissioned this year, it will have treated thousands of patients safely and effectively for almost 50 years. Consider this: Linacs are extraordinary machines, not just because of their effectiveness in treatment or the advanced science that goes into them, but because of their incredible durability. Our planet deserves a low-waste solution for their disposal, and patients deserve access to effective radiation oncology care–regardless of where they are or their ability to pay.
ROS is a Leader in the Circular Economy of Linear Accelerators
In a circular economy, manufacturers produce a linear accelerator, centers use it, and then ROS reuses the machine by reinstalling it elsewhere. Our model is a proven success: ROS has safely and reliably installed hundreds of recycled oncology systems, including linacs, CT, and MRI equipment worldwide to help patients and populations in need. Most recently, we have delivered used linacs to hospitals in Mexico and Venezuela, upgrading their systems and helping them provide a more modern standard of care to their patients.
Hospitals that work with ROS get more out of it than just the satisfaction of helping patients and the environment. ROS takes over liability for the operation, removing the risk to the hospital that sells or donates the equipment–a major advantage over working with local contractors for equipment disposal. By selling or donating your equipment to companies like ROS, you are helping to reduce waste, protect our environment, and save the lives of patients who would not otherwise have hope.
Learn more about selling your medical equipment to ROS today.