Wharton IGEL Partners with Johnson & Johnson to Help Healthcare Organizations Make the Case for Sustainability

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The Wharton School, through its Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, partnered with Johnson & Johnson to convene healthcare professionals and share best practices for measuring the value of sustainability initiatives in the healthcare field. Those who attended a one-day conference titled, “Metrics That Matter, Messages That Motivate: Making the Right Case for Sustainability in Healthcare,” are looking for ways to advance their organization’s commitment to and investment in sustainability, and make it an imperative in the eyes of their CFOs and stakeholders.

During the conference, participants grappled with the challenges they face in quantifying sustainability and engaging stakeholders across the healthcare value chain. Throughout the day, panelists and attendees identified several opportunities for the sector:

The first step to embedding sustainability is monetizing its value. Healthcare organizations should seek to establish a standard methodology for reflecting the value of sustainability in their investment decisions or risk losing cost savings and revenue gains by ignoring an initiative’s positive potential.

Sustainability communications can optimize returns and reduce risk. Though many healthcare organizations have begun to tell their sustainability story, a gap still exists, and, in the absence of information, some stakeholders, such as socially responsible investment firms, may assume the worst. Healthcare providers and payers at every level have the opportunity to differentiate themselves by transparently communicating their sustainability initiatives.

The majority of healthcare’s costs are upstream. Healthcare organizations should consider interventions across the value chain and collaborate with their procurement team and suppliers to achieve the greatest impact.

Of particular note during the event was an analysis of the use of sustainable materials by the sector, which indicated the full lifecycle of healthcare products and services will continue to be of growing importance to the industry. According to a recent poll by Practice Greenhealth and Johnson & Johnson, 37 percent of hospital administrators cite reducing overall operational costs as their top sustainability priority and name reducing energy usage, purchasing environmentally preferred products and supplies and decreasing waste as other key strategies. In response, healthcare suppliers have begun to integrate sustainability criteria into their development process, and companies have set goals to increase the environmental performance of their products.

Additional findings from the conference and developments in healthcare sustainability will be included in a forthcoming report from Knowledge@Wharton, the online business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. For more details, visit: igel.wharton.upenn.edu/research/metrics-that-matter-messages-that-motivate.

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Posted December 11, 2013

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