It’s clear that integrating sustainable business practices into a health system’s operations is the right thing to do for patients, caregivers, and the environment. Hospitals continue to look to Vizient to identify ways they can improve and expand their sustainability programs to create lasting change. That’s why Vizient recently launched its Environmentally Preferred Advisory Solutions, meeting members where they are in their sustainability efforts.
The comprehensive solution expands on Vizient’s largest portfolio of environmentally preferred and cost-effective products in the industry and enhanced analytics by linking hospitals with sustainability experts to provide assessment and strategy services. Assessment services could include examining environmentally preferred purchasing volume, collecting greenhouse gas data, and identifying opportunities for reducing costs. Strategy development services help members prioritize goals and outline a roadmap, as well as implement it by formalizing policies, engaging stakeholders, and integrating sustainability within hospital operations.
“Members have requested expanded resources and services to support their priority of reducing human and environmental harm while improving patient and staff safety,” says Cristina Indiveri, senior director, program services. “When it comes to sustainability, members may be at very different places in the journey. Environmentally Preferred Advisory Solutions is a one-stop shop to guide and support the full spectrum of member goals and priorities.”
Continued interest in sustainability
The COVID-19 pandemic has put increased pressure on the health care supply chain. The effective, efficient, and equitable use of limited financial resources is necessary. Hospitals are looking for cost-savings opportunities, such as energy and water savings, waste reduction, and purchasing consolidations. They’re also seeking opportunities to strengthen their supply chain, establish partnerships with vendors to hedge against supply risks, and engage employees for higher satisfaction.
During the initial wave of the pandemic, when members began experiencing uncertainty with availability of disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) products, many organizations began looking for alternative options during the pandemic. “Throughout these past few months, top member requests were focused on PPE. We’ve seen a significant shift from disposables to reusables among members – which has led to an opportunity to reduce waste, save costs, and potentially convert to a higher level of protection such as converting from a level 1 to a level 2 gown,” notes Indiveri.
To help members make PPE purchasing decisions, Vizient recently developed an Environmentally Preferred PPE Scorecard available upon request. The tool uses a simple red, yellow, or green system to show members whether PPE products from contracted suppliers meet environmentally preferred criteria. With new PPE options entering the market in response to COVID-19, Vizient developed the scorecard to help members select PPE products that align with their sustainability goals.
Understanding the ROI of sustainability initiatives
When evaluating environmentally preferred products, supply chain leaders should look beyond the upfront costs and calculate a product’s full return on investment. For example, the upfront cost of compostable serve ware tends to be more expensive than Styrofoam and other disposable serve ware options. However, because compostable serve ware biodegrades, it can be composted and transformed into mulch on hospital grounds after 40–180 days of being placed in a commercial compost facility. This not only saves money on landscaping costs, but also reduces trash storage and removal fees.
“Supply chain leaders may only take into account the purchase price, but the back-end costs are sometimes left out of the equation, which can actually make environmentally preferred options more attainable,” says Mellissa Nguyen, senior program services manager. Many members have achieved significant savings by increasing use of sustainable products and reducing energy consumption, while also being strong community stewards. Examples of saving include:
- A multi-state health system saved $26 million annually by selecting products without harmful chemicals. The organization has a goal of 50 percent of purchases being environmentally preferred by 2025
- An East Coast health system saved $3 million through a medical device reprocessing program
- A Midwest hospital saved $2 million annually by reducing energy consumption
Customized solutions and getting started
Vizient can provide members with a cost-effective portfolio of environmentally preferred products, a baseline assessment of their environmentally preferred purchasing data that highlights strengths and opportunities for improvement via an online dashboard, as well a comprehensive advisory solution to implementing or scaling sustainability within the member’s organization.
A sample of Vizient’s Environmentally Preferred Sourcing (EPS) dashboard that showcases a member’s environmentally preferred purchasing data, including strengths and opportunities for improvement.
“We receive many questions from members regarding how to get started and what to prioritize for environmentally preferred sourcing,” says Indiveri. “Our team collaborates with members to provide education, identify areas of opportunity and introduce our collection of resources which range from environmentally preferred analytics to advisory services to ease implementation and foster buy-in.”