The Healthier Hospitals (HH) program provides guidelines and resources for United States healthcare organizations to create more sustainable business models and incentivizes change across the healthcare industry. Healthier Hospitals is a free, voluntary program created by Practice Greenhealth to encourage hospitals to improve their health and environmental impacts across six challenge areas. Each area defines specific metrics and implementation plans, with clear objectives for healthcare organizations. The first challenge area is Engaged Leadership, which requires commitment from a hospital’s administration in order to implement a formal sustainability plan. The second, Healthier Food, encourages hospitals to model healthy food practices by serving fresher, more nutritional meals to patients, staff, and members of the community. Third, Leaner Energy provides guidelines for reducing energy consumption, improving efficiency, investing in alternative energies, and saving on energy costs. Fourth, the Less Waste challenge aims to reduce, recycle, and segregate medical and construction waste more efficiently. Fifth, the Safer Chemicals challenge strives for the elimination of formaldehyde, DEHP, perfluorinated compounds, PVC, antimicrobials, or flame retardants, and requires testing of new furniture in accordance with ANSI/BIFMA Standard Method M7.1-2011. Finally, commitment to the Smarter Purchasing challenge requires hospitals to seek out safer and more environmentally efficient products and equipment.
Healthcare organizations must commit to meeting benchmarks in at least one of these challenge areas and provide performance data. Each challenge is divided into a three-tier structure, designed to ensure that objectives are accessible to healthcare organizations with varying sizes, capabilities, and resources. First, organizations must meet a challenge’s baseline specifications, or present an action plan demonstrating how they will do so. Then they commit to completing the corresponding Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 goals within three years. Requirements become more complex as organizations make the shift towards Levels 2 and 3.
HH is a self-reported program, with no third-party verification—participating hospitals provide regular progress reports on their efforts to reach sustainability goals. This data is submitted to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), whose staff may perform a review and contact hospitals if figures seem irregular.
More than 1,300 hospitals can be found in the Participating Hospitals Database online. Hospital profiles show which the initiatives a hospital has committed to, but does not release individual hospitals’ data. This sustainability performance data is available in aggregate.