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Practice Greenhealth Announces Release of 'Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products,' Version 1.0

Practice Greenhealth has announced the release of the Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products (Version 1.0), which can be used to guide the identification, selection and procurement of environmentally preferable medical products. This tool is a significant part of Practice Greenhealth’s Greening the Supply Chain™ Initiative, which was launched earlier this year in order to provide a common set of tools for purchasers, suppliers and manufacturers to ensure that environmentally preferable products (EPP) are indeed available, cost competitive, of comparable quality and generate a sector-wide market shift in the direction of sound EPP practices.

The tool is intended to serve as a template with a common set of standardized questions on key environmentally preferable attributes of medical products that can be used by all stakeholders, including Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and healthcare purchasers in their supply chain procurement process and manufacturers and suppliers in their entire product life cycle process.

The questions were selected with input from dozens of organizations representing various sectors of the health care industry, including: hospitals, health systems and suppliers – participating as advisory members – and GPOs – as stakeholders. Practice Greenhealth also worked with nonprofit organizations and government agencies in developing questions for consideration.

The initial endorsing GPOs, members of Practice Greenhealth, are committed to providing environmentally preferable products and services to their members. These include: Amerinet, Inc., HealthTrust Purchasing Group, MedAssets, Inc., Novation LLC, and Premier, Inc., each of whom already ask suppliers about the environmental attributes of their products. These organizations collectively represent over $135 billion in annual purchasing volume.

The questions represent product attributes currently being asked by all five of these GPOs and gathered by Practice Greenhealth; and were informed by Kaiser Permanente’s Sustainability Scorecard, issued in 2011; and by input from suppliers, manufacturers, scientists, clinicians, and available research.

The tool includes a number of environmental attributes for future consideration. These other attributes may be considered in updated versions. Over time, the questions will be continuously reviewed with stakeholders and advisory members, and published on an annual basis, to reflect the priorities of health care.

“What we buy matters. By selectively choosing the medical products that enter hospital facilities, we can generate demand for inherently safer products and services for patients, workers and the environment. Products should have a reduced impact on our natural resources, contain safer chemicals, and drive reductions in energy use. We strive for a healthy environment and to do no harm. Environmentally preferable purchasing is an effective way for improving the environmental performance of health care products,” said Anna Gilmore Hall, Executive Director of Practice Greenhealth. “Greening the supply chain is an essential element for any health care facility embarking on a journey toward sustainable health care. Purchasing products and services with a reduced impact on human health and the environment takes into account one or more environmental attributes in products and services and applies them in the supply chain process.”

HSCA (formerly HIGPA) endorses Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products

In a related announcement, the Board of Directors of the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA—formerly the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association), has voted to endorse Practice Greenhealth’s Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products.

HSCA President Curtis Rooney noted, “Product safety is a key issue within the healthcare supply chain and we are proud to work with Practice Greenhealth to address this issue.  Our endorsement ensures that our members will commit to asking these important questions in the procurement process.  We believe this will significantly contribute to the efforts of health care providers aimed at reducing their environmental footprint. It will also serve to educate the nation’s health care providers and create a more informed decision-making process when sourcing and purchasing products.”

The Importance of Standardized Questions

These standardized questions are key considerations in purchasing practices in order to meet several goals including, but not limited to, providing a supply chain tool identifying key environmental attributes of concern to the health care sector, utilizing a collaborative approach among the largest purchasers of medical products to accelerate demand for products with reduced environmental and human health impacts, inform and educate the health care community, and create a consistent platform to reduce the RFI/RFP burden on suppliers.

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