6 Steps for Reducing Healthcare Waste Costs

Healthcare waste disposal is a costly line item on a hospital's financial sheet. Nonetheless, in order to  maintain healthcare compliance and the safety of personnel, patients, and the general public, it is critical not to cut costs on waste management. Waste disposal is unavoidable, and most healthcare institutions spend without looking for ways to save on costs. The six actions below will assist healthcare companies in dramatically reducing hospital waste costs and improving facility sustainability.

1. Determine the Hospital’s Baseline Waste Management Costs

Accounts payable will be the best place to gather the costs of suppliers, regions of operation, categories of waste created, volumes of trash created, and managers' ordering patterns. When a hospital examines its accounts payable, managers will discover that waste management expenses encompass both products and services. Whether a hospital bases its spending on gross revenue, square footage, adjusted patient days, or something else, administrators must first identify the hospital’s baseline waste management costs.

2. Develop a Formal Healthcare Waste Management Plan

The cornerstone of an organization's medical waste disposal strategy is a written waste management plan. By implementing written plans that keep expenses low, administrators can avoid unnecessary costs. Hospitals that rely on their employees' prior knowledge are likely to incur excessive costs. Your strategy should be as detailed as possible in describing your company's practices for managing regulated medical waste. Specify which items are not considered medical waste, for example, tongue depressors or the plastic wrapping that supplies arrive in.

3. Define Quality Outcomes for the Plan

As hospitals aim for long-term cost reductions in waste management, managers must examine the potential pitfalls. Removing expenditures from a hospital's waste program also means removing resources from the waste program. As the hospital depletes its resources, it must ensure that the resources it removes (and ultimately returns to the hospital’s operating budget) are either wasteful, or otherwise unnecessary to achieving the quality outcomes, as defined by key stakeholders. A complete stakeholder analysis is the first step in defining plan quality.

4. Ensure Proper Medical Waste Segregation

One of the most important aspects of waste segregation optimization is having the proper container in the appropriate place so that waste segregation is made easy. Make sure there is a can for recycling and ordinary waste available to employees in a patient area. Ensure that each bin is clearly labeled and color-coded for easy identification, and that it is situated in an easily accessible position to encourage optimal practices.

5. Execute the Hospital’s Waste Management Plan

This step may seem obvious, but it bears repeating. A hospital’s response to waste management costs is driven largely by the need for the hospital to make a serious shift to change to survive. Success is far more likely if the hospital executes this well.

6. Measure the Plan’s Effectiveness and Adjust When Necessary

Continual improvement is the process by which organizations frequently review their procedures, aiming to correct errors or problems. The focus of continual improvement is to identify problems before they occur, which will save time and money later. Since the hospital has already defined its cost and quality objectives, it is able to measure execution against plan objectives. If the execution fails to meet the plan, the change agent must make the necessary adjustments to ensure stakeholder satisfaction and economic goals.

What to do Next

These six steps are a great baseline to follow to reduce healthcare waste expense. Tactics such as waste diversion, total waste management, and recycling will help your organization save costs and become a more sustainable hospital. Partnering with a Triumvirate Environmental will give you a competitive edge on managing healthcare waste costs. To learn more about how we work with Healthcare clients, please visit our Healthcare services page.

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