Sustainability is no longer a buzzword. In response to the environmental challenges of our era, corporate sustainability has become integral to brand differentiation, customer loyalty, and business success. It’s no longer just the right thing to do — it’s good business. Large hospitals, medical device manufacturers, and health systems are taking an active role in ensuring the sustainability of the industry.
Hospitals are increasingly relying on supply-chain technology to improve efficiency and consistency in their purchases of everything from bandages to ambulances — and the health of their bottom line. Yet the methods for collecting, managing, and analyzing supply-related data are pretty old school. In a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty and increased scrutiny on medical spending, it’s time for hospitals to upgrade their approach to supply management.
Why Hospitals are an Ideal Sector to Address Sustainable Supply Management
Hospitals are a particularly appropriate sector to address sustainable supply management, due to their size and influence. As one of the largest buyers in healthcare, hospitals have significant purchasing power that they can leverage to drive change throughout the industry.
The average hospital generates more than 40 tons of waste per year, according to the EPA. That’s equivalent to about 200,000 plastic bags filled with trash.
The healthcare industry is one of the largest consumers of disposable supplies, accounting for about 20% of global plastic production and consumption. Disposable supplies – growing from $300B in 2015 to $700B in 2020 – are one of the fastest growing categories within the healthcare sector.
Additionally, hospitals generate a high volume of waste—in fact, the FDA estimates that up to 70% of discarded supplies are still usable. Since many resources go into creating these products (like fossil fuels), it makes sense for hospitals to focus on reducing their impact on the environment by reusing more items rather than throwing them away.
If you are a hospital administrator or supply chain manager, there are a few steps you can take to help optimize your inventory management and reduce waste.
Smart Hospitals Use Sustainability Metrics
Smart hospitals are making the case for sustainable supply management. As a healthcare facility, your team is focused on providing the best patient care possible. However, what about your commitment to sustainability?
To make this case and successfully demonstrate that you’re taking real steps towards reducing energy costs, improving procurement practices, and advocating for better supplier performance, you need to be measuring and reporting on sustainability.
Measurement matters because it allows you to establish baselines against which progress can be measured over time. Reporting frameworks are important because they allow your organization to provide transparency on its progress towards sustainability goals within the context of broader objectives such as cost savings or improved employee engagement (e.g., through encouraging people who work at your hospital).
Smart Hospitals Reduce Medical Waste
Smart hospitals are using smart technology to reduce medical waste.
Monitoring inventory levels: Hospitals can use smart technology to track and manage inventory, which can help them better predict demand and avoid overstocking. They can also use it to ensure that expired items are not being used, or that excess inventory isn’t being wasted by throwing out unused products.
Preventing harmful materials: Smart technologies allow hospitals to track how much waste they produce, where it all goes (including recycling), and what percentage of that waste is hazardous material — like pharmaceuticals or chemicals — which must be disposed of in accordance with federal regulations.
Preventing medical errors: Smart technologies can help hospitals avoid medical errors by tracking how long each item has been out of stock or expired, so they can ensure that they’re using the right equipment or medications at all times.
Preventing unnecessary waste: Smart technologies can also help hospitals reduce the amount of waste they produce. This can include monitoring inventory levels, tracking where products go after use (including recycling), and ensuring that excess inventory isn’t being wasted by throwing out unused items.
It’s time for hospitals to use smart technologies to reduce waste and harmful materials.
The fact that hospitals also generate large amounts of waste isn’t a surprise to anyone. However, what is surprising is how little hospitals have done to reduce the amount of waste they produce.
Hospitals are a prime example of where smart technologies can be applied to reduce waste and harmful materials. The medical industry is seeing a rise in sustainability initiatives that use connected devices to improve safety and efficiency. With the right infrastructure, hospitals can drastically reduce their medical waste, which has many environmental benefits.
Medical waste is a major issue in hospitals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), medical facilities produce around 10 tons of hazardous waste per year, most of which are disposed of in landfills. The EPA also estimates that about 40 percent of hospitals don’t have policies in place for managing their medical waste.
Smart technology can help hospitals save money, too — not just in terms of reducing costs and also by improving patient care by making information more accessible and efficient communication between departments easier than ever before.
It’s important for healthcare organizations to think more critically about their supply chains. By doing so, they can increase the efficiency of their facilities and also start reducing the amount of waste entering the environment.
We’ve noticed a growing trend in healthcare facilities looking to reduce their carbon footprint through sustainable practices. Much has been written about the why and how of greening healthcare facilities, however, achieving true organizational buy-in requires addressing all the moving parts of a hospital’s supply chain.
AssistIQ is elevating sustainability within health systems. It’s so refreshing to see that several smart hospitals are now focusing on key areas where they can have an impact on improving their supply management process while also focusing on quality care.