Healthcare sustainability hospitals

Do patients care about sustainability?

The short answer to our headline question is a resounding “Yes.” Today’s hospital patients care about sustainability in a big way. They are much like consumers in all categories, three quarters of whom are more likely to buy a product or service if the organization behind it is committed to sustainable practices. It’s no wonder, then, that hospitals are investing in better care for the planet as part of their core mission to provide the best care for patients.

94% of patients say sustainability matters

A recent study revealed that nearly all those patients, some 94%, consider a hospital’s sustainability programs to be important. Dig deeper into those findings, and you’ll discover that an orientation toward sustainability drives better results in three key areas, including: positive impressions of hospital food and dining (92%); satisfaction with the overall patient experience (94%); and likelihood to return for future health needs (86%).

Those particular areas of satisfaction are central to maintaining patient loyalty and the significant revenue it can add. A separate study reported that commitments such as Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) can lead to a 20% rise in facility revenue, while the boost to a hospital’s brand reputation can add as much as 11%.

Hospitals can build-in sustainability for long-term ROI

As mentioned above, sustainability for hospitals is an investment, not merely a marketing mantra. More than ever, institutions are designing and building with environmental well-being in mind. The sustainable buildings certification LEED, for instance, is becoming increasingly commonplace – but as significant as that is, these days it’s just a starting point. As one hospital leader put it, “You don’t get bonus points for LEED certification now. More and more, sustainability is becoming an expectation.”

Hospitals can add in sustainability for immediate effect

To meet those expectations, hospitals are looking at every aspect of their operations and supply chains, to create entire organizations that leverage the benefits of being sustainable. They create “green teams” to identify and prioritize opportunities, often finding that the simplest solutions, such as waste reduction and recycling, can have the biggest immediate impact. And they go beyond leadership-driven efforts to educate all employees on the “why and how” of sustainability programs, working to create an internal culture that truly embraces the philosophy that working to be good to the environment will be good for all.

When patients and hospitals value sustainability, it pays off for both

While much of the emphasis in sustainability is on saving resources, energy and costs, it must be remembered that in a hospital context the emphasis is ultimately on improving and saving lives. Thankfully, these efforts are more complementary than conflicting. Take energy savings as an example. Hospitals built to reduce electricity consumption tend to increase natural light, which in turn has been shown to improve patient outcomes. No matter what example you choose, every increase in efficiency and cost savings is ultimately positive for patients. As the American Hospital Association concluded in one study, “Sustainability is good business; it helps lower operational costs and allows hospitals to direct more resources to patient care.”

So yes, patients definitely do care about sustainability — and the more hospitals demonstrate their care for it, too, the more everyone will benefit.

Greenhealth: Sustainability and the Patient Experience
Wharton School of Business: Appreciating the Value of sustainability in healthcare
Health Care Facilities Today: Hospitals Embrace Patient Outcomes, Sustainable Design