Business Case for a Healthcare Sustainability Index

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Healthcare industry can become greener if those involved in healthcare purchasing have access to relevant sustainability data. Such information can transform hospital procurement, saving money for everyone involved. It will not only reduce impact on the environment, but also help to improve the health of patients, promote more sustainable healthcare products and services, and spark innovation throughout the supply chain.  

JoAnna Abrams, CEO of MindClick, a supply chain sustainability company, said that the big question now is how to leverage technology in a way that delivers meaningful information for purchasing managers to do their jobs better. But as things stand now, the information is not generally available, according to Eric Olson, senior VP at Business for Social Responsibility (BSR).

A healthcare sustainability index can be a game-changer in this scenario to protect and improve the health of the communities, while preserving the environment. Hospitals and other healthcare providers can use such an index to steer clear of products that can actually aggravate the very conditions they are spending precious resources to alleviate and cure.

Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) stand to benefit from an index in a variety of ways. Kevin Lewis, national program coordinator at one of the largest GPOs, Premier Inc., noted that as its 3,600 hospital members increasingly look for Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) data they can use in purchasing, new suppliers will be motivated to sign on. GPOs can also provide valuable analytics to their members, which they can integrate into their own analytical tools.

As a demonstration of what a healthcare sustainability index could achieve, a case study was recently conducted, which involved six companies: Premier, Johnson & Johnson, Steelcase and three healthcare providers, Edward-Elmhurst Health, Anne Arundel Health and Fairview Health. The results from Edward-Elmhurst were first released at the conference on “Sustainability & Health Care: Creating & Capturing Value” at Wharton, co-sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL). Since then, results from the other two health care systems have also been released.

A key learning from the case study for Edwards-Elmhurst was that 50 percent of the money it spent to purchase certain products positively contributed to human and environmental health, but that the other half did not. This knowledge gave the hospital a benchmark against which to measure its progress in the years ahead.

Source: Wharton

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