Inside the effort to strip toxics from U.S. hospitals
By Kristine A. Wong
Published July 31, 2012
It’s not easy to wrangle the largest players in any industry to give up competitive advantages.
But that's what the five largest health care group purchasing organizations (GPOs) in the U.S. (Amerinet, HealthTrust, MedAssets, Novation and Premier) did when they agreed to work together on a standardized list of questions for suppliers about their products' impact on humans and the environment.
It’s a move that can have a big impact on greening the industry’s supply chain: Purchases of the five GPOs represent 90 percent of all GPO purchases and total $135 billion a year, according to Curtis Rooney, president of the Health Care Supply Chain Association.
“These GPOs put competition aside to show that they are committed to sustainability,” said Beth Eckl of Practice Greenhealth, a nonprofit organization of more than 1,200 health care organizations (including hospitals and GPOs) aimed at embedding sustainable practices in the health care industry.
While Kaiser Permanente had developed its sustainability scorecard in 2010, there was still a need for standardized questions in order to compare each product using the same measures, according to Eckl, the director of the organization’s environmental purchasing program.