DotMed Business News reports that doing a little bit of homework and intelligently greening your health care offerings can have a positive impact on your bottom line. In an interview with Practice Greenhealth’s executive director, Laura Wenger, more is discussed about the ways in which hospitals and healthcare systems are going “green.”

 HCBN: What reasons do facilities give for not going green?

LW: Cost and staff. Red bag waste costs facilities up to ten times more than regular waste to dispose of, yet there’s a tendency to use it even for trash that isn’t regulated medical waste.  Other things, like kit reformulation, can also save money and be an environmentally responsible practice. If a kit has 50 items, but you only need 20, what are you doing with the rest of it? It’s not sterile anymore, so you can’t store it for the next patient. However, if you work with your kit packer, you can cut costs and cut unnecessary waste.  With health care reform and the way things are going, reimbursement isn’t going up. In the past, hospitals used to just up their prices to cover expenses. But that’s not happening anymore. So now, it’s a matter of being more efficient and decreasing their operational costs in order to still keep serving their community. But it takes time and energy to work on those initiatives.

HCBN: How much might a hospital expect to save with moderate greening efforts?

LW: That will widely vary, but among our Top Performers, the top 200 award winners in 2013, there was a savings of more than 16.8 million dollars in recycling programs alone. That amount was calculated by figuring out the amount of tons of waste that was diverted from a landfill to a recycling program — over 64 thousand tons of waste.  The same group saved over $30 million in electricity savings. They accomplished that by renovating facilities, switching to LED lighting, and other various energy initiatives.  Our hospitals also saved $18.3 million by utilizing reprocessing services for both invasive and non-invasive products. The reprocessors take them back and clean, sterilize and sell back to facilities at 50 percent of cost on average of what the purchase price would be for the same OEM device. This practice also diverted 330 tons of waste.

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