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Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products

The Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products are a set of supplier questions that can be used in the procurement process for medical products to identify environmentally preferable products. Medical products, for the purposes of this questionnaire, are defined as products used to diagnose, treat or care for a patient. This excludes electronic medical products (anything that plugs or has a battery) as another set questions will address electronics.

The questions cover key areas of concern in packaging, manufacturing, use, and the end-of-life of medical products based on environmental priorities in health care. The questions are not designed to replace product-specific environmental considerations. They are standardized environmental questions for medical products for use in the sourcing process to inform decisions. Individual users will determine how they will incorporate the information derived from the questions into their existing evaluation systems.

The questions were assembled by Practice Greenhealth’s core Guidelines team – drawing from work already done by GPO’s and systems – and reviewed by Stakeholders and Advisory members, representing a diverse mix of members from GPO’s, health care systems, hospitals, businesses, government and nonprofits that are committed to greening initiatives within health care.

The GPOs involved are members of Practice Greenhealth who are committed to providing environmentally preferable products and services to their members. They have agreed these questions will be asked on contracts pertaining to medical products.  These include: Amerinet, Inc., HealthTrust, MedAssets, Inc., Novation LLC, and Premier healthcare alliance, each of whom already ask suppliers about the environmental attributes of their products. These organizations collectively represent over $135 billion in annual purchasing volume. 

Goals of the Standardized Questions

The development of the Standardized Questions for Medical Products seeks to achieve several goals:

  1. Providing a supply chain tool identifying key environmental attributes of concern to the health care sector in order to inform purchasing  decisions.
  2. Facilitating  collaboration among the largest purchasers of medical products to accelerate the demand for and increase the purchase of products and services that, based on evidence, have reduced environmental and human health impact on patients, staff and the community.
  3. Informing and educating the health care community – including suppliers, purchasers, health care professionals, and others – about environmental and public health concerns important to health care and the communities served.
  4. Creating a consistent platform to reduce the RFI/RFP burden on suppliers. Each purchasing entity remains free to decide what to do with the information obtained in response to the questions.
  5. Improving the availability of cost-effective and environmentally preferable products and services and reducing the environmental/public health footprint of the health care sector.
  6. Engage suppliers in the process to inform them of the product attributes that are of the greatest concern and provide opportunity for input into refining the questions for additional clarity.

Building on this Tool

Providing a broadly accepted tool for the health care supply chain is one step of many needed to facilitate changes in the market place. Practice Greenhealth, as part of the Greening the Supply Chain™ Initiative, will build on this tool with additional educational and informational resources to support awareness and an understanding of the value of standardizing questions. Through a series of events and resources, and through building a coalition within the supplier community, we hope to foster a clear understanding of the need for environmentally preferable products and services in health care. We also hope to continue to educate this community on emerging issues of concern as they arise.

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