Linking "greener" operations to mission of healing is key to long-term sustainability of health care organizations
Submitted by: Johnson & Johnson
Posted: Sep 26, 2012 – 10:01 AM EST
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Sep. 26 /CSRwire/ - At today’s 2012 CleanMed Europe Conference, a research study was showcased revealing that increased global demand for more sustainable health care is driving the creation of “greener” products and purchasing guidelines among health care institutions. It’s one of several key findings from a new white paper, commissioned by Johnson & Johnson, that was unveiled to more than 400 hospital procurement officials and health care industry leaders from more than 15 countries. The white paper can be accessed at www.earthwards.com.
Jack De Bokx, senior director of environmental, health, safety and sustainability at Johnson & Johnson, U.K., explored the white paper findings with attendees during his plenary session.
“It’s clear from our research that the health care industry is holistically embracing sustainability as the driving factor in greener operations, improved health care and lower operating costs,” said De Bokx. “We’re not surprised that purchasing and materials managers and C-suite executives are key players in purchasing greener products, which underscores the business case for sustainability as competitive positioning in the health care industry.”
Johnson & Johnson commissioned interviews with health care experts and thought leaders to produce the white paper, The Growing Importance of More Sustainable Products in the Global Health Care Industry, to further probe the findings from its research conducted earlier this year. That global research offered some eye-opening statistics:
These data also reflect the surging interest in guidelines to inform “greener” purchasing decisions. According to expert interviews, health care leaders such as Kaiser Permanente have created sustainability scorecards which require suppliers to provide environmental information about products. Other institutions have adopted Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) programs to achieve similar goals.
Accordingly, more than 90 percent of research respondents that have an EPP program feel it is important in driving purchasing decisions. Also, those most interested in purchasing more sustainable health care products are purchasing and materials managers (42 percent) followed by C-suite executives (21 percent).
“The idea of transparency will only become more important,” said Gary Cohen, President and Founder of Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition of sustainable health care advocates. “Suppliers and hospitals around the world will be held accountable for impacts throughout the lifecycle of a product – from where it is produced and how it is used in the delivery of care, to how it is treated at end of use.”
Indeed, experts cited the proliferation of sustainability in nearly all aspects of health care purchasing. According to Practice Greenhealth, a U.S.-based not-for-profit that encourages environmental best practices in health care, emerging areas for sustainable purchasing include energy-efficiency and sustainable energy, waste reduction (particularly packaging and styrofoam), elimination of halogenated flame retardants and other toxic chemicals and sourcing local, healthier food.
Experts also noted that “greener” decision making will be balanced with a strong focus on the mission of treating patients and caring for their well-being and safety. Accordingly, Amerinet, HealthTrust, MedAssets, Novation and Premier, the five largest GPOs that secure a combined $135 billion in medical products each year, recently announced their endorsement of a standardized list of questions suppliers will need to answer regarding the impact their products have on human health and the environment.
In line with the study’s findings, Johnson & Johnson has recognized the growing desire of its customers to make “greener” purchasing decisions from industry leaders in sustainability. The company’s commitment is supported by a comprehensive environmental management structure, a system of recognition and assessment processes, and company-wide accountability for progress against its Healthy Future 2015 Goals. To help deliver on these goals, the company has established the proprietary EARTHWARDS® process for developing and marketing greener products through lifecycle thinking. Johnson & Johnson is more than halfway toward its goal of developing and recognizing 60 products through the Earthwards® process, with 34 products recognized to-date.
Johnson & Johnson has taken many steps to reduce its environmental impacts across all aspects of its operations – striving for performance that does not merely comply with regulations but protects and nurtures the planet’s beauty and resources for future generations. For example, in 2011 Johnson & Johnson achieved a 4.9 percent absolute reduction in facility carbon dioxide emissions verses a 2010 baseline, aiming for 20 percent by 2020.
Johnson & Johnson is a business member of Practice Greenhealth.
ABOUT THE RESEARCH
Johnson & Johnson commissioned SK&A (www.skainfo.com) to conduct global research on the state of sustainable products in the health care industry. The non-blind research was conducted in January 2012 and surveyed key decision-makers within Institutional Delivery Networks (IDNs) and hospitals in Brazil, Germany, Italy and the United States. Survey participants included health care professionals, procurement/materials management professionals, and executives.
Online surveys were conducted in Germany, Italy and the United States; in Brazil, surveys were conducted via phone. Fifty surveys were completed in both Germany and Italy; 62 surveys were completed in Brazil; and 145 surveys were completed in the United States.
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