Value Analysis Green Teams
It Isn't Easy Being Green
4 Strategies to Better “Green” Your Healthcare Organization
Who would have thought that a forty year old song by Kermit the Frog of Muppets fame, “Bein’ Green” would be so relevant to the healthcare supply chain? But given the fast pace of the healthcare supply chain and the thousands of options that your customers get to choose from in their products, services, and technologies it’s easy to understand why this is still an ongoing challenge for healthcare organizations going “Green”. Just adopting the “Green” philosophy and practices is a major challenge, let alone making it all happen in a cost-effective manner.
The major issue that we fight against in the healthcare world is the balance between convenience and cost when it relates to “Green” products. Our clinicians want to use a product, throw it in the trash bin and forget it. They don’t want to remember to take a reusable product, use it and then throw it in a special bin for reprocessing. Not to mention the thought that the product has been used before on other patients. That just does not sit right with them. This is outside the norm for our clinician staffs and they would prefer to just take the straight and easy path.
With that mindset and internal inertia with so many products, how do we advance “Green” strategies while maintaining quality and reducing/maintaining costs? Here’s four ideas that might help with this transformation:
1. Start with an Easy Win-Win Pilot – Before you propose a “Green” program for your organization, identify easy win-win projects that would make sense as a pilot with your current value analysis committee/team. They have already done all the leg work and will know ahead of time what all the options are and what the recommended outcomes will be; e.g., reprocessing harmonic scalpels can save up to 35%. There are plenty of cohort peer benchmarks to show that this is a best practice and will not jeopardize quality. These pilots will give you the opportunity to go through an actual “Green” project and then provide you with a learning curve on what is involved with this process.
2. Gaining Management Commitment – It is always best to get your senior management behind your “Green” initiatives because you, most certainly, will be facing opposition from your clinicians, department heads and managers while making change happen. You are going to be asking them to take products that are working perfectly with no issues and requesting them to change to alternative “Green” products that may or may not create issues. Of course they are going to challenge you. You will need to sell your management on “Greening” your organization. I’m reminded of the case of one of our community hospital customers, whose President happened to be sitting in on a VA Steering Committee meeting when the subject of “Green” products came up. He asked all the right tough questions and made the decision saying, “We will be a “Green” hospital.” I am not saying this will happen so easily for you, but you will need to convince your senior level management of all the positive aspects of a “Green” program in order to gain their support.
3. Set Goals – the old adage, “How do you know where you are going if you don’t plot a course on a map?”, applies to any major initiative and “Green” programs are no different. What is your savings goal for your “Green” program? What are your quality goals? How are you going to monitor and track your goals now and over the long term? Work with your senior management and “Green” team members to develop your goals, year by year, to ensure that you have a fresh set of goals working from the start of your program and for many years to come. There is nothing more energizing for any team than setting goals and then meeting them!
4. Learn from the Best – Plan to train your teams in “Green” strategies but don’t assume, as we do in the supply chain world, that they will understand what they are going to be asked to do. Plus, you will need to put all of your “Green” team members on the same page with training. Look for an expert that you could hire for a half-day program to educate your team members. It will be worth every dollar you spend to make sure that your team has a good foundation to spring forward.
“Green” strategies are here to stay, so look to engage your value analysis teams in this new “Green” world just as you would any other cost reduction or capital procurement process. We have worked with dozens of healthcare organizations who have had “Green” initiatives and have seen the value in these undertakings. So, it might not be easy going “Green”, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives!