All kinds of institutions are now trying ways to switch to greener alternatives. With the proposed ban on plastic bags in many states, initiatives are taken to introduce distribution of wholesale reusable bags by them. More recently, hospitals are making efforts at going green. They are aiming at reducing the amount of harmful wastes that get into the environment. Not only that, they are carrying out researches to ensure that they achieve their green goals without compromising on their profitability. If you are one among them, here is some information on how you can achieve a greener supply chain.
1. Corrugated Fiberboards
Every year, hospitals use tons and tons of corrugated fiberboards that are not disposed of responsibly. They add to the solid waste of hospitals. Since they are bulky, they need more storage space and are known to raise the costs of waste disposal considerably for the health care industry. They are known to be one of those materials that can be easily recycled. Instead of trying to dispose them of all by yourself, you can give them to the distributor who is involved in collecting them for recycling from all hospitals in your area. This can be profitable for you while being eco-friendly as the distributor does not charge any additional costs for recycling. Identify alternatives to cardboard boxes if recycling is not your choice.
2. Reusable bags
Another way is to opt for reusable bags. Some of the top eco-friendly companies are involved in wide spread distribution of recyclable bags. You can use these bags to market your hospital effectively. You can get your logo imprinted on them and distribute to your customers, employees and other staff. This makes sure that you gather some goodwill from your customers as you will be displaying your corporate socialresponsibility. Don’t forget, you are doing your bit towards a sustainable environment. Encourage all the employees to use them as often as possible and replace them with plastic bags that are harmful to nature. Instead of the fiberboards, you can use reusable bags to fill in all the items that you would fill in the box.
3. Vendor consolidation
Instead of getting your orders delivered frequently, you can get them delivered once in large quantities. The point here is that you will be contributing towards saving non-biodegradable fuel in the process. You can consolidate all your orders into one large delivery so that the vendor can save some fuel that gets used up for frequent deliveries. Some vendors participate in programs like SmartWay Transport Partnership (conducted by EPA, Environmental Protection Agency) that are aimed at bringing innovative ways to increase environmentalsustainability. Here, incentives are created that help in improving the efficiency of supply chains of freight companies.
4. Eco-friendly products
Manufacturers today produce medical products that are more natural and less expensive. Some of the biggest pharmacy companies are trying to do away with products that can cause potential threats to the environment as well as human health. Replacing the tubing and solution bags that cause harm to nature with eco-friendly materials can save millions of dollars to these companies. Hospitals can include in their policies to incorporate green practices and encourage green products. Besides practices like these, you can also reduce the use of paper by making use of e-commerce. You can order your products electronically, by doing which you will be saving tons of trees that are cut to manufacture paper. You can also include certain simple steps like incorporating ideas that can increase your energy awareness. According to BeckersHospitalReview.com, purchasing light bulbs that guarantee energy efficiency, or setting up motion sensors in different rooms with lower frequency, etc are some of the ways to raise energy awareness in your organization.
According to a recent report by the Health Research Institute (HRI) at PwC US regarding the use of social media in healthcare, one-third of consumers use sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and online forums to find health-related information, track symptoms, and broadcast how they feel about doctors, drugs, treatments, medical devices and health plans.
The PwC report, "Social media 'likes' healthcare: From marketing to social business," includes findings from a recent HRI social media survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and 124 members of the eHealth Initiative (eHI), a national association of industry organizations focusing on health information and technology. HRI also interviewed more than 30 industry executives and tracked the social media activity of a number of hospitals, insurers, drug manufacturers and online patient communities.
Within the survey, 41 percent of consumers said social media tools influence their choice of a specific hospital, medical facility or doctor; 45 percent said it would affect their decision to get a second opinion; 34 percent said it would influence their decision about taking a certain medication; and 32 percent said it would affect their choice of a health insurance plan.
While 72 percent of consumers said they would appreciate assistance in scheduling doctor appointments through social media channels, nearly half said they would expect a response within a few hours.
"The power of social media for health organizations is in listening and engaging with consumers on their terms. Social media has created a new customer service access point where consumers expect an immediate response," said Kelly Barnes, U.S. health industries leader at PwC, in a press release. "Health organizations have an opportunity to use social media as a way to better listen, participate in discussions and engage with consumers in ways that extend their interaction beyond a clinical encounter. Savvy adopters are viewing social media as a business strategy, not just a marketing tool."
According to the report, while some health businesses have started listening and participating in the social media space, they have not fully connected it to business strategy. PwC found that organizations that are strategic about their use of social sites are beginning to differentiate between social media and social business. Social media is the external-facing component that gives and receives customer input. Social business is where core internal operations, such as customer service, data analytics and product development could use social data. Additionally, patient-reported data on social networks could offer new insights on behavior and lifestyle to help inform care plans and improve the quality of life for patients with chronic conditions.
PwC says that hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers can benefit from the interactive nature of social media. Insights from social media offer instant feedback on products or services along with new ideas for innovation that could lead to higher-quality care, more loyal customers, efficiency and even revenue growth.
"Social media is another source of business intelligence that provides information at the aggregate level, not only about what consumers ‘like,' but what they need, how they behave and when their experiences demand an immediate response," said Daniel Garrett, U.S. health information technology leader at PwC, in a written statement.
It took radio almost 40 years to reach 50 million users; TV almost 15 and the internet about 5. Facebook reached 50 million users in about a year. A short 8 years later, 10 times that number or 500 million people throughout the world are connecting with others through Facebook.
Based on data collected in 2010, about 42% of physicians accessed social media sites for personal use. One year later, the numbers grew to 90%, higher than the general adult population. Still, physicians for the most part do not use digital media channels professionally. Their patients, however, spend a good deal of time online using social media to research their symptoms, discuss their healthcare issues with others and for referral information. Peer referral is the strongest resource. Patients trust their families, friends and colleagues. Where the best ads used to be word of mouth, now it’s the online equivalent. Even this year’s record-breaking Super Bowl viewership only amounted to about 25% of Facebook’s viewership. Without a doubt, well written digital content reaches many more people than expensive television commercials.
Clearly, online conversations about you as healthcare providers/organizations are happening with or without you. The genie is out of the bottle. Patients want the multi-faceted communications with the velocity and volume currently enabled only by social media. The very ubiquity of social media use by patients may ultimately compel providers to re-think their lack of professional use. In so doing, practitioners who use social media may actually reach their patients more frequently and more substantially, thereby creating deeper relationships. So what holds you back?
FEAR. Fear of violating someone’s privacy. Fear of violating HIPAA. Fear of negative feedback. That and the fact that once you see your patients, dictate your charts, fight with payers about billing and collections, take call, spend time with your families, eat and sleep, just when are you supposed to professionally engage through social media channels? There just aren’t enough hours in each day.
We've all heard the "Three R’s" (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) that help to maximize efficiency and eliminate waste from our routine. Hospital leaders may think going green is costly, yet there are several ways to improve sustainability while maintaining profitability. In honor of Earth Day, here are five ideas that can turn ordinary, everyday practices into areas of opportunity.
1. Cut back emissions through vendor consolidation.
Using a prime vendor to consolidate supply orders into large bulk deliveries reduces your number of deliveries in any given week. Many of these vendors participate in the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Transport Partnership program, which creates incentives for freight companies to improve supply chain fuel efficiency.
2. Reduce paper use through electronic ordering.
The average hospital produces close to three tons of waste per day and upwards of 80 percent of this is non-hazardous, mostly paper product. Maximizing your use of electronic data interchange systems for vendor transactions will reduce paper. EDI also increases efficiency and lowers administrative costs, so pay close attention to which of your vendors require paper ordering.
3. Choose green products.
Manufacturers are increasingly producing more natural medical goods that are cost-savers or cost-neutral and providers are responding. Kaiser Permanente recently announced that it is replacing its current IV solution bags and tubing with materials that are free of two chemicals shown to be potentially harmful to humans and the environment. In addition to being green, this decision will save the company an estimated $5 million per year. Draft an environmental purchasing policy for your organization that incorporates a switch to greener products and practices.
4. Increase your energy awareness. According to the EPA's ENERGY STAR® program:
Every $1 a non-profit healthcare organization saves on energy is equivalent to $20 in new hospital revenue
Every five percent energy cost reduction for for-profit hospitals can increase earnings per share by one cent.
Hospital operations are energy-intensive, so incorporating simple steps to reduce energy consumption can add up to long-term savings. Low-cost supply purchasing ideas — such as buying energy efficient light bulbs or installing motion sensors in rooms that are used with less frequency — are available on the EPA's website.
5. Eliminate cardboard.
Corrugated cardboard represents a large portion of the solid waste that gets discarded by hospitals each year. It takes up valuable storage space and significantly increases waste disposal costs for providers due to its bulkiness. Yet it is one of the easiest materials to recycle. Many vendors offer recycling programs such as one in Los Angeles, where a distributor collects cardboard from participating hospitals at no extra cost. Also consider switching to smaller just-in-time or low-unit-of-measure orders that allow for a variety of supplies to be delivered together in one reusable tote ready for immediate use. This can vastly reduce cardboard usage.
Most vendors are able to identify green product alternatives and distributors have programs to help you choose such products and adopt greener processes. Ask your medical products supplier what they are doing to lessen their organization's environmental footprint. Through active dialogue, you may find that your efforts quickly catch on and become a permanent fixture at your organization.