“Often, people think going green is more expensive. What we’ve been able to show is sustainability is a smart business decision,” said Seema Wadhwa, director of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. “Wasting less means saving more.” “We felt we needed to be part of the solution by providing a healthier environment,” said Vanessa Kortze, spokeswoman for Lawrence General Hospital, which joined the Healthier Hospitals Initiative last week. The initiative has enrolled about 900 hospitals nationwide, which agree to tackle any of six categories: engaged leadership, healthier food, leaner energy, less waste, safer chemicals and smarter purchasing. The Massachusetts Hospital Association, which officially became a supporter of the program in February, is working to enroll more hospitals and share best practices with them.Full Story
Posted on March 5th, 2014
Posted on February 27th, 2014
One industry that has traditionally stayed out of the climate change debate that should be taking a leadership role is the healthcare industry. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare product manufacturers are massive fossil energy consumers and are presently contributing to climate change in no small amount. As a result of this behavior, they are exacerbating some of the very illnesses that they aim to prevent. Clinicians and other leaders in the health community also have a moral imperative to better understand the link between climate change and the epidemic of chronic disease that fill hospitals with sick patients. The good news is that hospitals can play a leading role in the battle against climate change and the battle to better protect our health. First, as powerful entities in their respective communities, they can wield their influence to promote policies and initiatives that help combat climate change. Second, as major users of energy, hospitals can lead by example both by increasing energy efficiency in their own buildings and by using an increasing amount of renewable energy to meet their generation demands. Third, as major employers, hospital leadership should encourage their staff – there are an estimated five million healthcare employees in the nation – to become grassroots climate champions. Hospitals, health care providers and public health advocates must put their feet down and say, “enough is enough” and join the growing ranks of business, advocacy and elected leaders working to protect our environment and ultimately our health.Full Story
Posted on February 21st, 2014
Healthcare really understands the social aspects of sustainability—we’ve been doing it for years. The benefits of environmental sustainability are just starting to be understood. At Virginia Mason, we believe the “first do no harm” doctrine extends not only into how we treat patients, but also in how we impact the air they breathe and the soil where their food is grown. We take this seriously. We see it as a commitment to our patients, their families, and future generations of their families. The rest of the healthcare industry is starting to see the value, and is coming around. That said, healthcare is such an important industry at the cusp of major change. With the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act, the whole industry needs to find ways to streamline and reduce waste. Virginia Mason is uniquely positioned to respond to these changes. We were the first healthcare organization in the U.S. to adapt the lean principles of the Toyota Production System as the management methodology for eliminating waste, improving quality and safety, improving efficiency and lowering cost. I recently worked with a team on a project that diverted waste from the landfill, saved us disposal costs, and enabled us to donate clean medical supplies to local and global health efforts. When we reduce costs by eliminating waste through sustainability process improvements like this, we reduce the cost of quality healthcare to the patient and support the long-term financial stability of the organization.Full Story
Posted on February 20th, 2014
Hospitals can find easy "win-win" situations without much capital investment. One such situation Mr. Orsini mentioned is medical device reprocessing — in which an outside vendor disassembles, cleans, remanufactures, tests and sterilizes single-use devices like ultrasonic scalpels, and hospitals buy back the reprocessed device at a cheaper rate. It reduces landfill waste and the "high costs" associated with red bag waste, he says. Those bottom-line savings could help a hospital or health system's financial report card from the perspective of a credit rating agency or bank, especially if the organization is also taking on larger capital projects. "There's an increase in capital expense and depreciation, but you're also getting improvements in operating income immediately," Mr. Orsini says. "From that perspective, it's effective to external constituents."Full Story
Posted on February 19th, 2014
1. Human health and the environment Climate change impacts public health, yet most facilities aren't ready to say it out loud. Hospitals cannot get in balance without a top-down stewardship strategy that aligns with the organization's goals, as a handful of hospitals have started to prove. Wisconsin-based hospital system ThedaCare, for example, created a "sustainability leader" position and is hosting the Climate and Health Symposium to educate staff about environmental action and education. A member of Practice Greenhealth, it has signed onto all six challenges in the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a national campaign to improve sustainability in the health-care sector. 3. Cost savings Extending the life of equipment, improving efficiency, preventing toxins and waste, using less energy and water — these activities reduce costs. South Carolina's Bon Secours St. Francis Health System was the first hospital in the state to receive Energy Star designation when it reduced energy use by 20 percent through the development of the Ecological Stewardship Plan, resulting in annual energy-cost savings of $850,000. As a sponsor of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, it shares winning solutions to help others do the same.See all 10 sustainability reasons here
AMDR President Dan Vukelich to present Webinar as a part of Practice Greenhealth’s Greening the OR Series: Single Use Device Reprocessing – Going Green Saves Green
Posted on February 14th, 2014
$99This webinar aims to help you understand how single-use device reprocessing has become an essential component to hospitals sustainability programs as they attempt to do more with less. Objectives
- Discuss the regulatory aspects of reprocessing.
- Compare FDA requirements for reprocessors to those for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
- List the essential components for implementing a safe and effective reprocessing program.
- Describe organizational benefits of reprocessing including reducing costs and waste.
Practice Greenhealth Announces Development of Total Cost of Ownership Tool for Health Care Products and Services
Posted on February 7th, 2014
Read the full story here
With tremendous pressures to reduce costs within the U.S. health care system, health care providers must look at ways to lower their purchasing costs. When it comes to purchasing medical devices, products and services, there are submerged costs, such as storage, maintenance, and disposal costs, that are not considered during procurement decisions. Therefore, they may be paying more in the long term for a product with a lower sales cost. These costs are a part of the total cost of ownership of a product or service. Purchasing decisions should include these costs to assess the full costs to an organization.Health care organizations that consider the total cost of ownership in their supply chain purchasing considerations will benefit by:
- Reducing the costs of providing quality health care.
- Increasing product and service efficiencies to ensure products are not wasted (disposed).
- Minimizing the environmental footprint of health care through purchasing efficiencies.
- Reducing the use of resources, such as energy and water; reducing the amount of waste disposed and associated costs; and using safer chemicals to reduce potential impacts to patients and staff.
Posted on January 31st, 2014
The newest organization to support HHI is HealthTrust, a large healthcare purchasing group based in Brentwood, TN. "HealthTrust has always been dedicated to ecological responsibility," said J. Michael Jones, director of Clinical Education and Sustainability. "One of the forerunners of our formal sustainability program is a longstanding commitment to the advancement of reprocessing and remanufacturing medical devices--an initiative with a significant effect on both the environmental impact and economic strength of our member facilities." "HHI is a multi-year campaign and our first Milestone Report shows movement toward delivering a more sustainable hospital environment," said Cohen, who is also the founder of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Specific results included:Full Story
- More than 50 million pounds of materials were recycled.
- About $32 million in savings resulted from single-use medical device reprocessing.
- Nearly $9 million was spent on local/sustainable food options.
- Almost $19 million was spent on PVC/DEHP-free medical products.
Posted on January 30th, 2014
An insufficient business case is often cited as a barrier to implementation of environmental measures. Ironically, a business analysis of environmental best practices not only debunks the perception that “green” costs more, it actually creates a more compelling rationale for adopting such initiatives. An emerging set of environmental best practices is being defined for the OR that protects patient and caregiver safety, creates financial savings, and reduces environmental impact.Full Story
Single-use device reprocessingThe collection of FDA-approved, single-use devices (SUDs) for reprocessing is another strategy to reduce waste. Most major reprocessing vendors provide free collection services. The Government Accountability Office has validated that reprocessed SUDs pose no greater risk to patient safety than devices from original equipment manufacturers. Discounts of more than 50% provide financial savings while still ensuring quality and protecting patient safety. SUD collection and reprocessing could save hospitals more than $540 million each year or nearly $2.7 billion over 5 years.
Posted on January 29th, 2014
The mission is to raise awareness and educate hospitals about how they can develop a more sustainable OR. Reducing the glut of medical instrument packaging, smarter waste segregation and recycling are cornerstones of the program. "It costs the hospital 10 times more to haul away one bag of medical waste that has to be specially handled and treated compared with clear bag waste. If the waste is properly segregated up front, they have significant savings out the back door," she says. Greening the OR targets other areas for cost-savings and waste-reduction, including:Read the full article here
"We try to look at greening the OR from a holistic perspective and not just waste, although reducing waste is definitely a large opportunity," Wenger says. Blue wrap many times is mistakenly thrown into the regulated waste stream by clinical staff or it cannot be recycled, depending on local recyclers, she says. With pressure from hospitals, that is changing.
- Single-use device reprocessing;
- Energy-efficient LED lighting;
- HVAC setback systems;
- Reusable surgical instrument cases.