First Steps in Creating a Sustainable Procurement Structure in Hospitals

As a prominent healthcare provider in Canada, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is concerned with the effects of our sector on society, the environment, and our patients, as well as the communities we serve and the world.

In an effort to transform Canada’s health care supply chains and achieve our shared vision of a resilient, equitable, and environmentally sustainable system, we are currently collaborating with our peer hospital organizations and the province’s vendor community. We are also supporting low-carbon product innovations and investing in new business models that reduce waste and environmental harm.

Our top goals in promoting environmental sustainability are:

  • To motivate healthcare providers and the vendor community to assess their carbon footprints and establish mitigation plans
  • To create sustainable and equitable health care procurement policies, procedure manuals, and implementation guides to support our hospitals’ ESG corporative imperatives
  • To develop a unified and aligned message to the vendor community on the healthcare industry’s ESG goals and objectives
  • To establish a Community of Practice to exchange opportunities and best practices related to environmental sustainability

As a first step, HHS has created RFP language related to sustainability and environmental impacts that have now been included in our tendering documents. This may include requests for information regarding our current and future vendor partners’ practices and leadership on:

  • Measuring and reducing our vendors’ carbon footprint
  • Waste management, water conservation, air pollution, and stewardship
  • Environmental sustainability in design, packaging, and transportation
  • Environmental sustainability of their own supply chain and partners
  • Third-party verification, certification, or reporting documenting requested information

Sourcing and procurement process related to non-clinical categories such as office supplies, transportation, and technology-based products and services can offer a more flexible testing ground for healthcare organizations to trial new processes and templates.

In contrast, clinical categories may be more challenging, given the complexity of the requirements. To ensure issues are addressed and buy-in is obtained, clinical categories will need close coordination and collaboration with internal clinical subject matter experts and stakeholders. Case studies, vendor data, and peer discussions can provide the evidentiary information needed for clinical stakeholders and leaders to make more informed decisions.

In the contracting process, scorecards should include appropriate and specific key performance indicators (KPIs) pertaining to vendor business operations and performance, including ESG-related themes. It is important that these metrics be aligned with the organization’s corporate initiatives, goals, and values.

For the benefit of healthcare organizations, its leadership, employees, and the communities we serve, it is critical that we continue to work together to advance education and best practices, leveraging our shared our commitment to environmental sustainability.