Your Role in the Green Revolution

Going green isn’t just about sustainability, it’s about big savings

Supply chain professionals understand that “going green” isn’t just about sustainability. It’s also about big savings for your healthcare organization. Who better to lead the charge for sustainability and savings than supply chain managers?

“At its core, sustainability is conservation and preservation,” says Robert Menard, purchasing consultant. “A synonym for these words is savings, the province of (supply chain) and purchasing professionals.” This is because supply chain buys almost everything that can be reduced, reused or recycled at our healthcare organizations. Thus, being in the vanguard for conservation and preservation of resources at your hospitals, systems and IDNs.

Supply chain managers have made a dent in reducing, reusing or recycling the products they are buying at substantial savings. Yet, we as an industry have a long way to go before we can call this an overwhelming success. It is our estimate that there is an additional 31 to 48 percent that can be saved if supply chain managers were to:

Expand the scope of the products they are now being reused and recycled: By our estimate, there are at least 14 categories (more surfacing every day) of products that can be reused or recycled. However, most hospitals are only reprocessing 25 percent of the products available to them.

Track collections, because departments or units will fall back to old habits: By this I mean, that departments or units sometimes stop collecting their reprocessed items. Therefore, hospitals must track and trend their reprocessed item collections, just like you would do with your inventory items, or you could lose tens of thousands of dollars annually in reprocessed savings.

Benchmark reprocessing by department or unit to ensure you are optimizing your full reprocessing potential: We are discovering, with few exceptions, that most departments or units can and should reprocess more products. Just recently, I reviewed a report from our automated reprocess tracker which showed one of our clients departments was reprocessing nothing, when our benchmark stated they should be reprocessing 86 percent of their ablation electrodes. How would you know this fact, if you don’t have benchmarks?

Many supply chain managers are receiving pushback when they broach the topic of reusing or recycling of single-use-devices with some clinicians. However, the preponderance of evidence shows this is a best practice (including approval by the FDA) at most hospitals today. This undisputable fact should encourage you to keep pushing for this concept to be understood, accepted and then institutionalized organizational-wide at your healthcare organization.

Our challenge isn’t for supply chain professionals to recognize that reducing, conserving and preserving our hospital’s limited resources is the right thing to do in an era of cost containment. Our big task is to convince others that conservation is the only way forward if our healthcare organization is to survive in this new healthcare economy, since waste of any kind is unwanted, unneeded, and costly – and therefore should be avoided and/or reduced to a bare minimum.

About the Author

Robert T. Yokl
Robert T. Yokl is president and chief value strategist of Strategic Value Analysis® In Healthcare, which is the acknowledged healthcare authority in value analysis and utilization management. Yokl has nearly 38 years of experience as a healthcare materials manager and supply chain consultant, and also is the co-creator of the new Utilizer® Dashboard that moves beyond price for even deeper and broader utilization savings. For more information, visit For questions or comments, e-mail Yokl at