Green­ing up the sup­ply chain

Health­care heavy­weights back use of ini­tia­tive

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - Shawn Rhea

Six large health­care sys­tems are back­ing an ini­tia­tive to sig­nif­i­cantly ad­vance the use of green busi­ness prac­tices by hos­pi­tals. The ef­fort, called the Health­ier Hos­pi­tals Ini­tia­tive, has ini­tial sup­port from Ad­vo­cate Health Care, Oak Brook, Ill.; Catholic Health­care West, San Fran­cisco; HCA, Nashville; Kaiser Per­ma­nente, Oak­land, Calif.; MedS­tar Health, Columbia, Md.; and Part­ners Health­Care Sys­tem, Bos­ton. The six sys­tems, which to­gether own about 260 hos­pi­tals, put up an un­spec­i­fied amount of seed money to launch the ini­tia­tive. But the group—whose pri­mary goals are mov­ing sup­pli­ers to­ward the pro­duc­tion of greener prod­ucts and ser­vices and re­duc­ing the costs of those goods—ac­knowl­edged that the ef­fort would suc­ceed only if it gains sup­port from other hos­pi­tals and health­care sys­tems.

“We’re a big whop­per of a health­care sys­tem,” said Robert Gotto, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, pro­cure­ment and sup­ply with Kaiser Per­ma­nente. “We’ll spend about $14.1 bil­lion on pur­chas­ing this year, but if you look at it, we’re just 2% to 3% of the U.S. health­care mar­ket, where Wal-Mart is 40% of their mar­ket share in the U.S. So we re­ally need that col­lab­o­ra­tion to move the mar­ket.”

Un­veiled last week dur­ing the CleanMed con­fer­ence in Bal­ti­more, the ef­fort lays out a broad pre­lim­i­nary plan for en­gag­ing chief hos­pi­tal ex­ec­u­tives in en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy devel­op­ment, set­ting costs-re­duc­tion tar­gets and stan­dards for prod­uct con­tents, and re­duc­ing en­ergy use and gen­er­ated waste.

The ini­tia­tive fol­lows sev­eral ear­lier ef­forts to green por­tions of the health­care sup­ply chain. They in­clude a 1998 agree­ment be­tween the Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion and the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency to elim­i­nate mer­cury from the sup­ply chain and the cre­ation last year of the Hos­pi­tal En­ergy Al­liance—a coali­tion of nine health­care sys­tems that com­mit­ted to ad­vanc­ing hos­pi­tals’ adop­tion of re­new­able en­ergy technology.

Gary Co­hen, pres­i­dent of Health Care With­out Harm—which along with Prac­tice Green­health and the Cen­ter for Health De­sign helped de­vel­oped the project—said the ini­tia­tive seeks to rapidly build on lessons learned from those ear­lier ef­forts.

“ The dif­fer­ence now is the scale on which we’ll work with group pur­chas­ing

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