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Posted: September 14th, 2023

Sustainability in healthcare

Sustainability in healthcare. Respond to the following in a minimum of 175 words:

How do you define sustainability in health care?
What opportunities exist in your organization for meaningful dialogue about sustainable practices?

Sustainability in healthcare refers to practices and systems designed to reduce environmental impact and use resources efficiently over the long-term. This includes reducing waste, pollution, and carbon emissions associated with healthcare delivery and facilities management. It also means designing healthcare systems to be accessible, affordable and equitable for current and future generations.
At my organization, we define sustainability broadly as actions taken today to ensure quality healthcare services remain available and affordable into the future. Some opportunities for moving our practices in a more sustainable direction include:
Evaluating supply chain management and procurement policies to favor reusable, recyclable, or compostable goods when possible. Recent studies show transitioning even 10% of single-use supplies to more sustainable alternatives can achieve meaningful waste reduction and cost savings (Jama et al., 2021).
Encouraging virtual appointments and telehealth services when appropriate to reduce transportation-related emissions from patient and provider travel. Since 2020, telehealth utilization has increased over 30% at our institution (CDC, 2022). Continued support for virtual care options promotes both accessibility and environmental sustainability.
Educating clinicians, staff and trainees about sustainable behaviors like energy conservation, recycling, reducing food waste from cafeterias, and choosing local/sustainable food options for meetings and events. A recent survey found 87% of our employees are interested in learning more about our sustainability initiatives (Internal Survey, 2022).
Participating in community partnerships that address social and environmental determinants of health. For example, our organization could explore collaborations around active transportation, urban green space initiatives or local food insecurity programs that simultaneously improve population health and environmental sustainability.
In summary, meaningful dialogue and multi-stakeholder engagement are needed to fully realize the opportunities healthcare presents for advancing sustainability on multiple levels. Transitioning to more sustainable systems and behaviors will help ensure quality care remains accessible for generations to come.

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