By Keith Dabbs, Director, Supply Chain, OC Reilly, Inc.

(April 18, 2023)—The term “sustainability” can mean many things.  Making sustainability real on a daily basis and with a consistent approach can be a challenge, but the health care industry is stepping up to that challenge.

More organizations are looking for a solid framework to guide how they handle sustainability, largely leading to an increased application of ESG, or Environmental / Social / Governance principles. The scope of sustainability within health care facilities has long been defined simply as recycling.  With the growing awareness and insistence regarding ESG performance among stakeholders of all types of organizations, including health care, the related strategies and programs have become much more comprehensive and ambitious.

A hospital represents a major component of many communities, and the boards that govern those facilities want to ensure they are doing things the right way.  Beyond being the responsible thing to do, committing to an ESG-based strategy must also be balanced with other operational and financial demands.

For advisors like OC Reilly, a common-sense approach to improving sustainability across the entire spectrum of supply chain can be achieved through everyday best practices in areas such as logistics, energy management, and waste handling. For instance, since supply usage requires constant deliveries that are impacted by all operational measures from warehousing / storage to point-of-use inventory strategies, that means creating operational efficiencies can have a direct and positive impact on the environment.  What’s more, enhanced operational efficiencies also can improve the day-to-day responsibilities for staff and inherently create a safer workplace environment.

At a major Virginia-based health system, OC Reilly has worked with manufacturers and vendors to more efficiently and consistently recycle products used in the Operating Room, such as staplers and plastics.  Some other products can be repurposed and reused, as well.  OC Reilly has found that major surgical vendors are aware of the need and are eager to assist in this program, realizing that it also supports their relationship with the health care system.

A team from OC Reilly plans to attend a CleanMed Conference this spring to stay on top of the latest in ESG practices.  The conference promises to offer important information to health care providers as well since federal Medicare and Medicaid programs may be incorporating ESG metrics into their reimbursement formulas in the future. Bottom line, it’s essential to incorporate ethical, operational, and financial considerations when evaluating the current state of your health care organization.

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