Greenhealth Exchange (GX), a purchasing cooperative for hospitals and health care systems that want to purchase affordable green and sustainable products and services, continues to add to its roster of members.

Confluence Health, Wenatchee, Wash., is the latest health system to become an owner, as they are called by the GX, when it joined the cooperative last month.

Confluence is an integrated health care delivery system that includes two hospitals and offers more than 40 medical specialties and primary care throughout North Central Washington state.

“Working toward the implementation of greener and more sustainable products aligns with our priorities, both as health care providers and members of our community,” says Cory Ferari-Zimmerman, vice president of finance, Confluence Health.

“Like GX, we believe that green and sustainable products shouldn’t have a negative financial impact on our organization. In fact, in many cases, there is savings to be realized,” Ferari-Zimmerman says.

“The mission of Confluence Health paired with its deep alignment with the communities they serve make them a wonderful addition for Greenhealth Exchange,” says John Strong, president, GX.

Since GX was launched in 2016, it now includes nine health systems, along with longtime health care sustainability organizations Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth.

Besides Confluence Health, the cooperative includes Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Dignity Health, Gundersen Health System, University of Vermont Health Network, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Mayo Clinic and Virginia Mason.

The cooperative includes a total of 67 hospitals that together represent $41 billion in annual revenues and more than $9.5 billion in purchasing power. GX leverages its members’ collective purchasing volume to establish contracts for green products at prices equal to or below that of products not truly green, says Mary A. Starr, vice president of member care, GX.  

"One of the most frequent complaints we hear from individuals working in supply chain and sustainability is that it’s difficult to find a green product,” Starr says.

“We also believe that there is a perception in health care that green and sustainable products must cost more. Our work is allowing us to determine whether or not sustainable products cost more and what we can do about it,” she says.   

GX has determined the baseline and preferred sustainability attributes for 10 to 15 product categories so far, including food, building materials, cleaning, office supplies, furnishings and other areas. The plan is to expand offerings in those areas as well as work on establishing contracts in information technology/electronics, medical products and energy, Starr says.

The organization is finding that many products that are offered as ‘green and sustainable’ don’t come close to meeting GX’s criteria, Starr says. GX establishes its criteria with the help of industry experts from Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth and others with which they work. 

“By using this approach, we are no longer reliant on suppliers’ definition of ‘green’ and our market strength enables us to obtain competitive pricing,” Starr says.

GX is in the build-out phase for an information system that illustrates a product’s sustainability attributes for its members, allowing them to quickly identify sustainability components for each product and to find products that help them to achieve their sustainability goals, she says.