It can be found by proven changes in the waste management system, energy use and operating room supply procurement, according to a just released study by the Health Care Research Collaborative, and co-authored by our own Kevin Little.
Nine hospitals — including Gundersen Lutheran Health System based in LaCrosse — participated in the study that showcases sustainability programs that minimize waste.
Susan Kaplan, director of the Research Collaborative, cites examples that led to the broader study:
- Gundersen Lutheran Health System improved energy efficiency by 25 percent, reducing environmental emissions linked with disease while saving more than $1 million a year on its electricity bills.
- Kaiser Permanente reduced harmful toxins while saving $25 million a year through its environmentally preferable purchasing program.
- Dignity Health in 2011 reused products kept 198,000 pounds of waste out of landfills and saved the system $5.6 million.
“This study turns on its head the belief that introducing environmental sustainability measures increases operating costs,” said Blair L. Sadler, J.D., senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, one of the study authors and former CEO of Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, CA. “With little or no capital investments, significant operating savings can be realized. It is good for patients and staff, and is a better strategy than having to lay off valuable personnel or closing effective programs that lose money.”
Click on this link to download the 14-page report. (Also, visit The Commonwealth Fund, which helped fund the study, and read this report by Jeffrey Thompson, Gunderson CEO, for the specific detail of their program.)
As with so much of the work our project partners are doing today, we already know what actions will reduce financial and environmental costs. The challenge — and our mission — is spreading awareness of these proven processes and actions so they can be adopted much more widely and much more quickly.