One of the new emerging sustainable initiatives is Green Healthcare. Leading healthcare organizations the world over are striving to create environments more conducive to healing, while also trying to eliminate barriers to patient safety and environment risks. While on one front these organizations want to be good stewards of the environment, on the other they are also striving to survive in the marketplace in these recessionary times.
Green Buildings form the basis of Green Healthcare
The first thought that comes to the mind when one says Green Healthcare is Green Buildings for hospitals i.e. buildings that are designed to be energy efficient while also eliminating pollutants. Green Guide for Healthcare, developed by green healthcare industry leaders, provides for Best Practices for creating high performance healing environments for healthcare organizations. This initiative provides a rating system based on credits for each initiative and helps hospitals benchmark themselves in this regard. Intuitive tools such as Energy Dashboard and Patient Room Touch Panels help in tracking and controlling the energy usage.
The next most important aspect of Green Healthcare is equipment efficiency. With more and more diagnostic imaging equipments and post-processing devices now available to a healthcare organization, it has become pertinent that the equipments are energy efficient. More and more organizations are looking for the availability of Energy Star qualified products for medical equipment purchases. Various innovations are ensuring that medical devices are most energy efficient, for e.g. Siemens SOMATOM Definition CT scanner claims energy savings of up to 30% and lead reduction of up to 83% over other products.
Fig 1: Siemens SOMATOM Definition CT Scanner
Another significant development has been the creation of central electronic storage repositories. The continued use of PACS systems and the move towards networked hospitals means a huge reduction in the requirement to film the patient images. It also eliminates the need to purchase envelopes to store them and the expense to courier those to remotely located PACS stations.
Recycling of Medical Waste & Equipments
One of the key concerns with the healthcare industry has been the toxic nature of the medical waste and the effect of the same on the environment. More and more healthcare organizations are rolling out initiatives to recycle the waste. Some hospitals reported savings of $1 million or more by recycling paper, cardboard, metal, batteries, lamps and printer toner cartridges.
Suppliers these days are also offering more programs for the take-back and recycling of used products. Siemens Medical Solutions offers take-back of its used systems for recycling and proper treatment. No substances that are banned for use are included. The take-back program is part of Siemens’ product sustainability program, entitled product-related environmental protection (PREP).
The PREP process is used to improve environmental performance of its products across all product life cycle phases. The PREP process includes:
- Inventorying the environmental aspects of products and packaging
- Selecting environmental improvement targets for significant product revisions and new products across all product life cycle phases
- Refurbishing of used systems
- Offering take-back of used systems
- Providing product environmental data.
Green Hospitals is a trend that is taking hold in hospitals across the world. It is counter-intuitive for hospitals to offer anything other than the most healthful environments. This provides the solution providers in the field of healthcare with a wonderful opportunity to participate in this drive to provide the Green Healthcare solutions of tomorrow.