Healthier Hospitals launches its new challenge areas starting this fall.

By Janet Howard, Director of Member Engagement and Healthier Hospitals, Practice Greenhealth on October 19, 2015

fish bowl

Here at Healthier Hospitals, change is afoot. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative’s three-year cycle has come to an end, and the newly renamed Healthier Hospitals continues as a free, permanent program at Practice Greenhealth.

The new logo reflects this change. But that’s not all. After careful consideration, stakeholder engagement and data analysis, Healthier Hospitals is gearing up to release the updated measure details for the next phase of engagement. In addition to edits of existing measures, new challenge goals are under development to further the work at Practice Greenhealth, offered as an exclusive membership benefit. So not only will Practice Greenhealth members get support for achieving Healthier Hospitals’ revised challenge goals, but new members-only measures will help Practice Greenhealth members take their sustainability to the next level.

If your hospital is currently enrolled in a challenge, there is no reason to re-enroll; however, please do join us to review the measure updates as they are released (see “Call In!” below). As the revised goals are finalized, they will also be posted on the Healthier Hospitals website (


Healthier Hospitals continues as a starting point for those just embarking on their sustainability journeys. The aggregate data will drive change in the marketplace and help hospitals realize success by taking on one of the six challenge areas.

Thanks to the success of the goal framework used by Healthier Hospitals, Practice Greenhealth will also expand this model. Each of the six chal-
lenge areas will see some changes, and Practice Greenhealth will develop additional goals to help further member hospitals’ success.

These measures are being reviewed, updated and released on a monthly basis beginning this fall and finishing in January 2016.

So what’s different? Data analysis found that the baseline requirement was often skipped over and not addressed (for example: mercury elimination in the Safer Chemical Challenge). For that reason, baseline requirements are being moved to actual goals so that they can be given equal focus and aren’t overlooked.

Some definitions or measure parameters are being clarified to ensure comprehension of the measure. In addition, some normalizers are being changed, based on data analysis and statistical significance.

For additional details, here’s a quick rundown of the six challenge areas of Healthier Hospitals, with expected revisions and release dates:

Challenge Area Background What’s Different? Expected Release Date
Engaged Leadership Engaged leadership is the foundation for sustainability work and can help ensure long-term success. Practice Greenhealth is developing a new Engaged Leadership goal for those hospitals seeking to take their engaged leadership to the next level. Think of it as a prequel. This measure has been modified for those hospitals that do not yet have a formal commitment from leadership. It will focus on key specific measures, where less is more.
The measure also has a new goal to help hospitals make the case to leadership and provides step-by-step guidance to identify champions and successes and to work toward “the ask.”
With these changes, the challenge can now be more helpful to those who have seen grassroots and departmental success, but seek a more formalized program.
January 2016
Healthier Food Healthy food is increasingly becoming a key factor for patient meals, productive employees and work environments, as well as overall healthier communities. Even with this increased interest, there are still challenges with data, supply chain transparency and product availability.
As an adjunct, Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm have teamed up to create a Market Transformation Group with the primary goal of leveraging the aggregate buying power of participating health systems to accelerate the transformation of the health care supply chain toward more sustainable products, technologies and services. Many supply chain partners are actively working toward meeting one of the MTG’s engagement initiatives to increase the availability and procurement of meat and poultry produced without the use of routine, nontherapeutic antibiotics.
Within this goal, the Balanced Menus challenge is fulfilling its original intent, “Less Meat, Better Meat,” by keeping a reduced meat goal while adding the goal of procuring nontherapeutic antibiotic–treated meat and poultry.
Local and sustainable food purchasing has separated the goals and measures. This change will support stronger data for analysis and resource development.
At this time, the Healthy Beverage goal has been eliminated from Healthier Food due to data reporting issues and a long-term desire to focus more on tap water access and education. Those interested in continuing the measurement of healthier beverages can do that through Practice Greenhealth.
October 2015
Leaner Energy This challenge has seen nice momentum even as more remains to be accomplished. While there are no changes to this challenge area, Practice Greenhealth is developing a measure around renewable energy procurement to balance conservation with the importance of healthier energy procurement. August 2015
Less Waste This popular measure has also experienced good momentum. The measure details are the same, but data analysis demonstrated that waste per operating room is a more accurate measure than waste per adjusted patient day. That will be updated November 2015
Safer Chemicals This challenge’s success came from helping enrollees to simplify it, accomplish the goals and better understand the importance of safer chemicals for healing environments.
Safer Chemicals gained momentum and saw dramatic increases in the number of hospitals working on green cleaning and PVC/DEHP-free devices. A handful of systems taking a leadership role also led to significant movement in the Healthy Interiors goal, demonstrating that a framework can shift markets when a few systems will make a firm commitment and others follow.
In the updated challenge, mercury elimination has been moved from a baseline requirement to a goal.
The Healthy Interiors goal is expanding the list of chemicals excluded from furniture and furnishings to include some specific antimicrobials as well as all flame retardants, not just halogenated.
One product category—floor cleaners—is being added to the Green Cleaning goal. Hospitals will be asked to inventory cleaners to help address the need to standardize, reduce products and move to safer cleaners.
For the PVC/DEHP-reduction goal, product categories were clarified to better reflect how systems categorize and purchase these products.
December 2015
Smarter Purchasing While Smarter Purchasing measures were highly achievable and the data collection has been successful, there was often a disconnect between the sustainability lead and the data required for this challenge.
More effort is needed to make the connections among purchasing leadership and sustainability. This has been one of the toughest nuts to crack and requires engaged leadership to help measure success in environmentally preferable purchasing.
The measures are not changing, but the approach may. Single-use device reprocessing will focus on compression sleeves and pulse oximetry only, to facilitate those just getting started.

EPEAT will continue with little change.
Surgical kit reformulation will have a slight change in measurement.

September 2015

Call In!

The monthly data collection call with Christopher Bodkin, held the third Thursday of the month, will share measure updates as
they are released. Visit

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