Purchasing touches every department of a hospital, and a high-level commitment to environmentally preferable purchasing can anchor these efforts and drive comprehensive, sustainable changes in how supplies and services are procured.
Practice Greenhealth has collected best practices from many hospitals that are successfully doing this work. The most successful have followed a clear framework of important steps that secure buy-in and longevity, promoting the results of any initial purchases of before the organization procures its first sustainable services or products. These key activities include:
- Actively engaging leadership by building a solid business case for a program and policy
- Crafting a sustainable procurement policy so that it aligns with the existing organizational goals and mission
- Understanding how procurement is organized and what the organization spends money on
- Developing an action plan and clearly defining purchasing goals and metrics for success
- Utilizing available environmental criteria
- Systematically educating and collaborating with staff, GPOs, and supply chain partners
Sustainable procurement may begin as a hospital-wide endeavor, though many of our member hospitals report tremendous success by starting with the system due to centralized purchasing. Others have started with a pilot project, then used what they learned and evidence of success from the pilot to expand into other areas. Common starting points for a focused sustainable procurement program can include:
- Surgical kit reviews
- Single-use device reprocessing
- More sustainable electronics
- Green cleaners and safer chemicals
- PVC/DEHP-free medical devices and furnishings
- Food and beverages
Sustainable procurement considerations ultimately need to become part of regular purchasing and supply chain processes to make sure they are effective and replicable over time.
Practice Greenhealth’s tools and resources help members launch sustainable procurement initiatives, learn how to embed sustainability into processes from the ground up, and provide guides for identifying products, services, and equipment that meet their sustainability goals in a financially responsible and strategic way.