May 3, 2010

Launching a 'sustainability scorecard' for medical products

Purchasing initiative to drive sustainability and workplace safety, designed to improve the public’s health.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente, committed to improving the health of its patients, workforce and communities, announced today that it will require suppliers to provide environmental data for $1 billion worth of medical equipment and products used in its hospitals, medical offices and other facilities.

The Sustainability Scorecard is the first of its kind in health care. It will allow Kaiser Permanente to evaluate the sustainability of each medical item it purchases while also encouraging suppliers across the industry to provide greener products for the health care sector. Addressing concerns about products and materials commonly used throughout health care will help create a healthier environment for Kaiser Permanente’s patients, employees and physicians.

“Kaiser Permanente recognizes we can improve health today and for the future by taking a close look at the products we purchase,” said Dean Edwards, vice president and chief procurement officer. “With Kaiser Permanente’s size and influence, the work we’re doing is continuing to move the industry.”

Kaiser Permanente spends more than $1 billion each year on medical products. By September this year, when Kaiser Permanente’s key supply chain partner, Broadlane, adopts the tool, the scorecard could influence $10 billion in medical purchasing.

The focus on greener products is just one aspect of Kaiser Permanente’s industry-leading work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the use of harmful chemicals and promote sustainable food choices. The organization is dedicated to environmental sustainability because it has direct, positive effects on individual and community health.

Kaiser Permanente’s current environmental policies already provide environmental guidelines for products ranging from greener cleaning chemicals to IV tubing free of potentially harmful chemicals. The Sustainability Scorecard goes further by requiring suppliers to provide information on their company’s environmental commitment, use of potentially harmful chemicals in their products and information about product and packaging recycling.

"Kaiser Permanente is continually working to find environmentally friendly products, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and inform public policy to protect the health and safety of our workforce and members alike," said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente's vice president for workplace safety and environmental stewardship officer. “With our Sustainability Scorecard, we are strengthening the link between sustainability and health.”

Kaiser Permanente has a long history of environmental stewardship. The organization builds greener facilities, strives to purchases non-toxic materials and supports sustainable agriculture. For example, the organization has worked with suppliers to virtually eliminate the use of products and equipment that contain mercury, which is a neurotoxin. Last month, the organization announced it had agreed to deploy 15 megawatts of solar power in a deal that will put solar panels at 15 Kaiser Permanente facilities across the state by the summer of 2011. For more information about Kaiser Permanente’s environmental efforts, go the www.kp.org/green.