By Erin Cristales, Vizient
It’s only 10 a.m. on a Thursday, but it’s already been an eventful morning for Cristina Indiveri, Vizient’s AVP of strategic programs and contract services. Just an hour earlier, she fielded a call from the White House Ways and Means Committee to discuss how her team is moving the needle when it comes to environmentally preferred sourcing in healthcare. Are providers focused on sustainability, the committee asked? And if so, what are the key components that allow them to track goals and accelerate change?
It’s hardly a surprise that a top governing body’s fact-finding mission would include a meeting of the minds with Vizient — over the past few years, Vizient has expertly navigated industry waters to emerge as a leader in environmentally preferred sourcing (EPS), with Indiveri as captain of the EPS ship.
A services-led and analytics-enabled approach to nearly every conceivable aspect of the healthcare ecosystem has served as the foundation for Vizient’s success, and nowhere has that strategy been more evident — and evidently beneficial — than in the formulation of the new Environmentally Preferred Purchasing dashboard, a robust, one-of-its-kind tool.
Call it a lifesaver for healthcare organizations looking to identify sustainable products among a sea of options.
Or, better yet, call it the answer to the questions above. Yes, providers are focused on sustainability. And the dashboard is an endlessly customizable way they can track goals and accelerate change.
“Sustainability touches everything from landscaping at a hospital to anesthetic gases in the operating room,” Indiveri said. “We’re connecting our suppliers across the board, no matter if it’s in food and nutritional services or exam gloves. And we want to continue to lead the way because our members are telling us, ‘Vizient is transforming the healthcare landscape.’ They rely on us as a trusted partner in this space because they can’t do it alone.”
The EPP dashboard first launched in spring 2018 as a relatively simple construct— “It was literally a bar graph,” Indiveri said — but has expanded alongside Vizient’s commitment to EPS services and analytics to include compliance metrics across entire systems. The dashboard allows users to view specific environmentally preferred attributes — which includes everything from metals and natural rubber latex to recyclability and chemical inventory — and evaluate the amount of their organization's spend that contains products with harmful chemicals or other environmentally undesirable characteristics.
The dashboard also showcases member health systems and their EP percentages, enabling other members to team up to replicate their system’s best practices. With this expansion of metrics, providers can find the analytics and peers to guide their sustainability journey, regardless of whether they're taking their first step or have been walking the path for decades.
The best part? As of this year, the dashboard is free.
“We thought, ‘This is so fundamentally valuable, we want to provide it to all of our members,’” said Indiveri, who noted that by March, more than 150 members had access to the dashboard, with the team currently on track to deliver it to approximately 500 members. “This is how Vizient can show up as an industry innovator and say, ‘Let’s get the conversation started.’”
And in this case, talk is far from cheap — conversations surrounding sustainability can lead to big payoffs in patient care. While providers are also concerned about unnecessary waste, they tend to focus most on the chemical composition of products that come into direct contact with patients to ensure they aren’t inadvertently harming the people they’re trying to heal.
“If we want to continue to create habitats on Earth, if we want to do so without extraordinary weather events and air pollution, if we want to ensure we have enough food and water for everyone, we need to change the way we’re conducting business,” Indiveri said. “And understanding the environmental attributes of the products you’re using mitigates risk and ensures human health. Really, it all comes down to the safety and well-being of future generations.”