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Sustainability Assessments for US Hospitals and Healthcare Systems

Leanne Strickler
Published March 27, 2024
sustainability assessments for hospitals and healthcare systems

Sustainability has become critical for hospitals and healthcare systems in today’s healthcare landscape. It’s a multi-faceted concept encompassing environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic viability. By embracing sustainability, healthcare organizations can enhance their reputation and attract and keep top talent. Embracing sustainability also helps create a healthier environment for patients, staff, and the communities your organization serves. This blog post will explore the significance of sustainability for hospitals and healthcare systems and explain how to get started with sustainability assessments. We’ll also highlight how SupplierGateway’s platform can support your organization’s sustainability journey.

Why Hospitals and Healthcare Systems Should Care About Sustainability

Sustainability is no longer a “nice-to-have” for hospitals and healthcare systems — it’s a necessity. Here are five key reasons:

1. Sustainability is increasingly important to patients, employees, and investors. Many patients, employees, and investors demand that healthcare organizations reduce their environmental impact and improve their social responsibility. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 65% of Americans believe that businesses have a responsibility to address environmental issues.

2. Sustainability helps hospitals and healthcare systems reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. By implementing sustainable practices, healthcare organizations can reduce energy consumption, water usage, and waste production. This can lead to significant cost savings and improved operational efficiency. For example, one hospital in California saved over $1 million per year by installing energy-efficient lighting and appliances.

3. Sustainability can help hospitals and healthcare systems attract and retain top talent. Top talent increasingly seeks employers committed to sustainability. A recent study by the University of California, Berkeley found that 75% of millennials are more likely to apply for a job at a company committed to social responsibility.

4. Sustainability can help hospitals and healthcare systems improve their public image and reputation. Healthcare organizations can improve their public image and reputation by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability. This can lead to increased patient loyalty, increased donations, and improved relationships with government agencies and regulators.

5. Sustainability initiatives help hospitals and healthcare systems comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations. With increasing regulatory pressure on healthcare organizations to reduce their environmental impact, hospitals and healthcare systems must have a plan to address sustainability. By implementing sustainable practices, healthcare organizations can ensure they meet regulatory requirements and avoid potential fines or penalties.

sustainability assessments for hospitals and healthcare systems

How to get started with sustainability assessments

Getting started with sustainability assessments can seem daunting, but by following a few key steps, hospitals and healthcare systems can make the process easier and more manageable.

1. Set up a cross-functional team. The first step is assembling a cross-functional team of individuals from various hospital or healthcare system departments. This team should include representatives from clinical operations, finance, facilities management, supply chain, and environmental services. The team should be responsible for developing and implementing the sustainability assessment plan.

2. Determine the scope of the assessment. The next step is to determine the scope of the sustainability assessment. This includes identifying the areas of the hospital or healthcare system that will be assessed, such as energy use, water use, waste management, and supply chain practices. The team should also define the boundaries of the assessment, such as whether it will include only the main hospital campus or satellite clinics and facilities or which suppliers will be assessed.

3. Select the relevant metrics and indicators. Once the scope of the assessment has been determined, the team should select the relevant metrics and indicators that will be used to measure sustainability performance. These metrics and indicators should align with your sustainability goals and objectives. 

4. Conduct a baseline assessment. The next step is to conduct a baseline assessment of your organization’s sustainability performance. This involves collecting data on the selected metrics and indicators over a specific period. The baseline assessment will provide a benchmark against which future progress can be measured.

5. Set goals and targets for improving sustainability performance. Once the baseline assessment has been completed, the team should set goals and targets for improving sustainability performance. These goals and targets should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) and aligned with your system’s sustainability strategy.

Common Challenges with Sustainability Assessments

While sustainability assessments are critical for healthcare systems looking to stay compliant and improve their environmental performance, organizations face many challenges when conducting them.

One of the most significant challenges is data collection. Sustainability assessments require a wide range of data, including information on energy use, water consumption, waste generation, and supply chain practices. Collecting this data can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially for large organizations with multiple facilities.

Another challenge is stakeholder buy-in. Sustainability assessments can impact various stakeholders, including employees, patients, and community members. Getting buy-in from all stakeholders is essential to the success of a sustainability assessment. However, getting everyone on board can be difficult, especially if conflicting interests or priorities exist.

The lack of standardized reporting frameworks also makes conducting assessments more challenging. Many different sustainability reporting frameworks are available, each with its own unique set of metrics and indicators. This can make it difficult for organizations to compare their sustainability performance to others in their industry.

Finally, sustainability assessments can be costly. The cost of conducting a sustainability assessment can vary depending on the size and scope of the assessment. However, even a small assessment can require significant time and resources.

Despite these challenges, sustainability assessments are essential for hospitals and healthcare systems that want to improve their environmental performance and reputation. By addressing these challenges head-on, organizations can overcome these obstacles and realize the benefits of sustainability assessments.

sustainability assessments for hospitals and healthcare systems

How SupplierGateway ‘s Sustainability Assessments and Reporting Help

SupplierGateway’s Sustainability Assessments and Reporting platform can help healthcare organizations achieve sustainability goals. The platform provides a centralized location for organizations to collect, manage, and analyze sustainability data across their supply chain. This data can then be used to generate reports that track progress toward supply chain sustainability goals and identify areas for improvement.

SupplierGateway’s platform helps healthcare systems identify sustainability and ESG risks within their supply chain. The platform can assess suppliers based on various criteria, including environmental performance, social responsibility, and governance practices. This information can then be used to decide which suppliers to do business with.

In addition, SupplierGateway can help healthcare organizations comply with regulatory requirements. The platform can track suppliers’ compliance with sustainability standards and regulations and generate reports demonstrating an organization’s commitment to sustainability.

With SupplierGateway’s Sustainability Assessments and rReporting platform, healthcare organizations can take control of their supply chain sustainability initiatives and achieve their sustainability goals.

Want to see the platform for yourself? Take a self-guided tour.

Make Sustainability Part of Your Organization’s Culture

Prioritizing sustainability within your organization requires a commitment from leadership and a willingness to change. It is not enough to simply create a sustainability policy and hope that employees will follow it. Instead, organizations need to make sustainability a part of their culture so that it becomes second nature for employees to think about and act sustainably.

There are a number of things that organizations can do to make sustainability a part of their culture, including:

Creating a sustainability committee: This committee should be comprised of employees from all levels of the organization and should be responsible for developing and implementing the organization’s sustainability policy.

Developing and implementing a sustainability policy: This policy should outline the organization’s commitment to sustainability and set goals for reducing its environmental impact.

Providing training and education on sustainability for all employees: All employees should be trained on the organization’s sustainability policy and goals and given the resources they need to make sustainable choices in their work.

Rewarding and recognizing employees who demonstrate a commitment to sustainability: Employees who go above and beyond to reduce the organization’s environmental impact should be rewarded and recognized for their efforts.

Integrating sustainability into your organization’s strategic planning process: Sustainability should be a part of your organization’s strategic planning process so that it is considered when making decisions about the organization’s future.

Making sustainability part of your organization’s culture takes time and effort, but it is worth it. By creating a culture of sustainability, organizations can reduce their environmental impact, save money, and attract and retain top talent.

The Future of Sustainability in Healthcare is Bright

As investors, regulators, and consumers increasingly focus on ESG and sustainability, hospitals and healthcare systems must reduce their environmental impact and improve their social responsibility. Additionally, sustainability can be a source of innovation and competitive advantage. The good news is that a growing number of tools and resources are available to help hospitals and healthcare systems assess and improve their sustainability.

By collaborating with suppliers and other stakeholders, hospitals and healthcare systems can achieve sustainability goals and create a healthier future for everyone.

Find Out More

Take a self-guided tour and see how Sustainability Assessments and Reporting can help your organization create more supply chain transparency.