Health Systems, Environmental Groups Create Green Purchasing Co-op

RESTON, Va. — To take on the traditional group purchasing organizations (GPO), four health systems and two environmental organizations joined forces to create a green-focused cooperative. Lebanon, N.H.-based Dartmouth-Hitchcock; San Francisco-based Dignity Health; La Crosse; Wis.-based Gundersen Health System; and Boston-based Partners HealthCare teamed up with Reston-based Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, also in Reston, to launch their catalog this fall.

Dubbed Greenhealth Exchange, the for-profit group boasts an estimated $4 billion in purchasing power, more than 50 hospitals and $21.2 billion in annual revenue. While executives have not yet disclosed contracted suppliers, the co-op’s network of suppliers will be carefully researched and vetted based on carbon emissions reduced, energy and water saved, safer chemicals used and other provider requirements.

While many GPO’s have green contracts or sections, it can be difficult to find competitively priced green products and services among the millions of non-sustainable items. For the informed buyer, Greenhealth Exchange will offer comparisons on product price, sustainability scale and benefits to the environment.

“If every vendor has their idea of what’s green, you have to sort through that. People are interested in being reliable in their environmental purchases, but don’t have the infrastructure,” said Dr. Jeff Thompson, CEO emeritus of Gundersen Health System in an interview with Modern Healthcare.

Industry health care leader Kaiser Permanente provided funds to Practice Greenhealth to explore the idea of the exchange. While they are not participating in the green co-op at this time, Kaiser is dedicated to sustainable practices and worked with Health Care Without Harm to become one of the first health care systems to phase out plastic supplies with PVCs and other toxins.

To purchase through Greenhealth Exchange’s catalog, health care systems will pay an annual fee (yet to be determined) in order to be an Associate member. For organizations wanting to be more hands-on in deciding the green requirements, they and their affiliates can become a Member by paying a one-time fee of $150,000.