Hospital programs to reduce waste can help achieve savings

A study by the Commonwealth Fund has found that programs to reduce energy use and waste and achieve operating room supply efficiencies could achieve savings exceeding $5.4 billion over five years and $15 billion over 10 years.

For the study, researchers examined data from hospitals implementing programs for energy use reduction, waste reduction, and efficient purchase of operating room supplies.  Researchers then standardized the metrics and projected national savings were all U.S. hospitals to implement these initiatives.  Results showed that the cost of the interventions, including capital costs, were relatively small and investments yielded positive returns within a short time frame. 

The authors suggest that for cash-strapped safety-net hospitals, federal and state funds should be designated to support these cost-saving changes.

(Sources: The Commonwealth Fund, http://commonwealthfund.org, November 2012)