– “We need to address our hospital’s sustainability problems to make it more environmentally friendly”, some might point out.
– “How could hospitals be more sustainable? We certainly don’t have the budget!”, others might point out.
Budget management is often identified as an issue for hospitals to not implement hospital sustainability initiatives.
A common thought is that hospital sustainability is mainly related to hazardous waste treatment, greenhouse gas emissions, and medical waste management.
While these might be real problems, they are not the only which influence the impact a hospital has on the environment.
Every year, hospitals spend a big slice of their budget on unnecessary steam sterilization costs and managing an overstock of orthopedic implants. Both of which have heavy costs, and end up impacting the environment too.
By implementing hospital sustainability strategies, institutions are both making their health systems more environmentally friendly and, if well managed, reducing costs.
In this article, we will be discussing how sustainability can be used in hospitals, to help practice a more greenhealth policy, and still reduce costs.
The discussed hospital sustainability ideas will highlight topics such as:
- Implant waste impacts both costs and the environment
- How reducing sterilization costs lead to a more sustainable hospital
- How technology can make a difference in environmental policy
Implant waste: from stocking costs to environmental impact
This is especially related to the fact that hospitals rely on overstocking in implants.
But how does implant waste relate to overstocking?
Often, when hospitals and healthcare facilities lack predictability or use inaccurate planning tools to anticipate the right implant size for procedures, several items have to be prepared or available in storage.
This leads to:
- Hospitals overstocking on materials and sizes – leading to excess storage costs too.
- Many of these items will reach the expiration date or become obsolete before use.
Waste and elimination of these correspond to a significant environmental impact. Implants relate to physical waste that is mostly composed of polyethylene, which is a plastic material.
The reduction of implant-related errors and waste can lead to huge transformations in the hospital's environmental impact. While at the same time impacts positively on the management and storage costs.
At PeekMed, we are working to build a more sustainable and balanced healthcare system. One of the steps is by helping our partners reduce surgical implant waste.
Our solution allows surgeons and healthcare facilities to know beforehand what kind of implants and tools best fit each procedure.
Therefore, hospitals and implant manufacturers can better manage inventory and greatly reduce their environmental impact by minimizing implant waste.
This is possible by combining Artificial Intelligence with orthopedic digital templating.
How to manage instrument sterilization costs and increase your hospital sustainability
The same principle relates to instrument sterilization. Often, an excessive amount of instrument trays are prepared and never used.
These need to go through the sterilization process before entering an operating room, which costs both for the hospital and the environment.
On the economic impact of not predicting what material you will need, take this as an example:
- Sterilizing a surgical instrumentation tray can cost on average $75.
- Each Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) needs, on average, 8 instrument trays. That’s $600 for each TKA surgery – or over $420M a year in the United States alone.
The reality is that, in the end, less than half of those trays are ever used, since surgeons only need one size per surgery.
On the environmental side, this impacts a lot of variables – water, electricity, hydrogen peroxide, wrap material – related to the process of sterilization.
Every time an implant is needed for surgery, a set of instruments is provided for its correct implantation.
These instruments vary from implant to implant, since each different implant needs specific instruments unique to the implant’s brand and particular size.
Based on costs alone, it is clear that managing sterilization costs can lead to a more sustainable hospital.
But the truth is that instrument sterilization also has a huge impact on the environment.
As previously stated, we have been developing the technology to minimize such a burden.
PeekMed provides the surgeon with the capability to accurately anticipate the most appropriate implant for surgery during preoperative planning.
Again, using AI in orthopedics surgeons can automatically select the most suitable implant type and size according to each patient’s needs and procedure measurements.
Hence, the surgeon won’t need as much material prepared and sterilized on the day of the surgery, reducing instrument waste.
This contributes to both making the hospital more energy efficient (costs that are reflected in all medical centers) as well as contributing to greatly reducing the number of trays in each procedure.
Final thoughts on how technology is reducing hospital waste
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), 60% of orthopedic surgery errors could be avoided with preoperative planning.
Orthopedic surgery errors affect not only how a hospital is managed, but the impact a medical procedure can have on patient quality of life.
By using the PeekMed AI-based solution, surgeons can have access to an automated preoperative planning process.
This leads to up to 20% surgical time reduction per procedure and 50% sterilization costs reduction.
At the same time, the implementation of technology will have a positive impact on hospital sustainability and still have a cost reduction regarding medical waste disposal.
This is an important mindset for the future, that we, ourselves, at PeekMed, are following, and this year we've just released our first ESG Report, too.
We want to help you be a benchmark of excellence in the health sector by providing better health at lower cost and risk – a clear win for patients and staff.