Environmental sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. Recent studies have shown that 92 percent of physicians and 88 percent of health system executives agree that environmental sustainability provides long-term cost savings. Vizient recognizes the importance of protecting patients and the planet by offering products within its catalog that minimize the impact to the environment.
In 2011, Vizient began collecting environmentally preferred attribute information from its suppliers in order to educate members about products that are made without toxic chemicals. Recently, Vizient went a step further by creating the Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) member dashboard that helps health care professionals search within its vast catalog to find products that are safe for patients and the environment.
“We are excited to provide this new tool to help our members achieve their important environmentally preferred purchasing goals,” said Cristina Indiveri, MS, senior director, program services. “For many organizations, sustainability has been a key focus for quite some time. Today, it is a mainstay for many members and considered an integral part of ensuring safe and transparent health care practices.”
The dashboard was created under the Vizient Environmentally Preferred Sourcing (EPS) program. Members of the Vizient EPS team collaborated with Kaiser Permanente and the Vizient Environmental Advisory Council to standardize 23 Environmentally Preferred (EP) medical and surgical product attributes, which have been adopted by others within the health care industry. The EPS team also has established environmental attributes for food, food service ware, cleaning chemicals and furniture products.
Members are consistently using the EPP dashboard, and they give the tool high marks. Justin Graves, director of materials management, logistics and sustainability at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and chair of the Vizient Environmental Advisory Council, said the dashboard provides his staff with the level of detail they need to take proactive steps in reducing their environmental impact while improving patient safety and care.
Launched this summer, the EPP dashboard breaks down the amount of spend and the percentage of environmentally safe attributes that a product contains. By viewing the dashboard, members are able to avoid purchasing items that contain harmful chemicals such as phthalates (commonly found in plastics), polyvinyl chloride (also found in plastics) and flame retardants. Indiveri said the dashboard gives members data they can use to make changes in their purchasing habits. Armed with this information, Indiveri said members can use the dashboard as a tool while sifting through the Vizient catalog in search of environmentally preferred products.
Data on EP products are reflected as icons on more than 460,000 items in the Vizient catalog. Green EP icons indicate that suppliers have provided Vizient with self-reported environmental attributes about their products. When hovering over the green EP icons, members can view attribute information on each product and which products are the safest purchases for patients.
“The dashboard sheds light on environmentally preferred successes as well as low-hanging fruit to encourage members to convert from conventional products,” she said. “It’s more than just purchasing products with a reduced impact on the environment. At its core, it’s about reducing patient risk and improving safety.”
Earlier this year, Vizient shared its 23 product attributes at the Healthcare Group Purchasing Industry Initiative’s Best Practices Forum, and in a show of collaboration with industry partners, shared the attributes with others to promote greater industry-wide standardization in sustainability. The Vizient EPS team also presented at the 2018 Innovative Technology Exchange in Las Vegas in early October, where for the first time ever, the team reviewed the products showcased at the exchange and awarded suppliers whose products met the Vizient environmental criteria with an EPS designation.
“Many attribute EPP to recycling practices, but it’s significantly beyond that. EPP not only encompasses waste-reduction practices, but also safer chemical utilization and most importantly, human health,” Indiveri said.
Want to gain more insight into limiting your exposure to harmful chemicals? Check out this recent blog. Also, learn more about how Vizient is helping members protect people and the planet from environmentally harmful chemicals. For more information on the EPP dashboard, contact Cristina Indiveri.