Turn out the Lights

By Janet Howard, Director, Content and Outreach, Healthier Hospitals Initiative on March 4, 2014

Think of energy conservation as a quality imperative.

What do we mean when we talk about environmental stewardship as a quality imperative?


The Healthier Hospitals Initiative has developed three webinars to bring energy managers (or Facility Directors) and quality improvement professionals together to take on the HHI Leaner Energy Challenge—using ENERGY STAR’S Portfolio Manager to track energy performance with a goal of 3, 5 or 10 percent reduction from baseline year. Go to PracticeGreenhealth.org for more information.

It’s time for quality professionals and facility managers to sit down and talk about energy as a quality initiative. While facility managers have technical expertise on energy conservation and renewable energy, quality professionals could enhance program effectiveness through partnering on data collection, analysis and performance tracking—for maximum benefit.

One of the goals of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative is to use data to demonstrate the critical role environmental stewardship plays in quality health care for the 21st century. How do we measure quality health care? The Institute for Health Care Improvement describes quality health care as meeting the triple aim: quality patient experience, cost per capita, and population health. So when we want to measure quality, we seek to measure data in these diverse areas.

Data is needed to improve performance. We see where we are now, look around the landscape, see where others are, imagine where we want to go, define the measure or standardize the measure, level the playing field through some kind of "normalizer" (adjusted patient day, square feet, number of ORs, e.g.), set goals, track performance, compare with others, and demonstrate progress and measurable outcomes.

Environmental stewardship is about metrics and performance measurement and in Practice Greenhealth Awards season—hospitals are gathering, tracking, reporting, and documenting loads of data and implementing programs and educational activities to move those data points in the right direction. The data is shared in aggregate for strength in numbers through the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and compared to national benchmarks for Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards.

Practice Greenhealth and the Healthier Hospitals Initiative help guide data collection, goal setting, and benchmarking but quality improvement professionals have the skills and experience to take data collection and analysis to a whole new level and sustainability teams could benefit from connecting with quality teams for maximum return on data collection and translation for quality outcomes.