Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle How to Establish an Eco-Friendly Medical - PDF by bqn12004


									Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: How to
Establish an Eco-Friendly Medical Practice
                  BY LYNNE MICHELLE                         nical support and ongoing green strategies for your prac-
     We are aware of the importance of saving our envi- tice with the use of a guide for small businesses on how
ronment, and many of us do our part at home by recy- to achieve energy efficiency. Some of what you will learn,
cling, driving energy-efficient cars, and turning the fur- for example, is that an ENERGY STAR-certified com-
nace down at night. But do those earth-friendly habits puter is going to be 52% more efficient than a standard
follow you into your medical practice? There are many one.
options for turning your office into an eco-friendly prac-               Manage E-Waste Responsibly
tice.                                                           Now that your practice has purchased new energy-
     A green strategy requires careful research and plan- efficient computers, what do you do with the old ones?
ning. Much of the savings to your                                                   Don’t throw them away! Why not?
practice will come with well-con-                                                   Why be concerned about old elec-
sidered decisions that prevent or                                                   tronic equipment? Unfortunately,
reduce waste in the first place –         “Going green” is good                     electronic waste is the fastest-
waste of materials, waste of your                                                   growing segment of municipal
employees’ time, and waste of
                                        for the environment, easier                 land-fills around the world, with
your practice’s hard-earned            to implement than you might more than two million tons of elec-
money.                                                                              tronics discarded every year. Some
      Integrate the 3Rs Into              think, and can save your                  components in most electronic and
           Your Practice                         practice money.                    electrical products contain hazard-
     Just as we had to learn the ba-                                                ous or toxic materials, such as
sic “3Rs” in elementary school to                                                   lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic,
prepare ourselves for life as responsible adults, we can and cadmium. This includes computer monitors, printed
prepare ourselves to go green based on a foundation for circuit boards, batteries, and switches and relays. While
environmental awareness with the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, these toxics are not a problem when consumers use these
and Recycle. They make good business sense for medi- products, they can create environmental problems if they
cal practices in today’s economy. An environmentally are discarded with disposable trash. Businesses and in-
aware practice can generate less waste and reduce oper- stitutions must manage electronic devices and compo-
ating costs by practicing the 3Rs. Every time you buy nents in a manner consistent with state and federal law.
new heating or cooling equipment, electronics, or office              Consider Alternatives to Disposal
equipment, your choices affect the environment. You can         There are alternatives for managing your unwanted
save money and the environment by understanding en- electronics. Review the options below to find one conve-
ergy use and actually reduce your energy bill by 30 per- nient for you and your practice:
cent when you purchase the most energy-efficient prod-           Reduce (or Prevent) Waste in the First Place
ucts for your practice.                                         • Lease equipment. When acquiring new computer
             Choose Your Electronics Wisely                 equipment, ask and learn about lease options. Because
     By upgrading old products with new, efficient sys- users do not assume ownership of the product in a lease
tems, your practice can save energy. For most practices, arrangement, the old unit is returned to the vendor, often
the computer is the central tool of the office. According for a credit toward a future purchase.
to the Department of Energy, office equipment accounts          • Identify durable products. When shopping for elec-
for 16 percent of an office’s energy use. Visit the Federal tronic and electrical items, review the product’s repair
Government’s Energy Star website history and consumer reliability ratings first.
smallbiz to browse office equipment that cuts down the          • Repair instead of replace. Repairing an electronic
use of energy and reduces pollution. By joining ENERGY or electrical item may be cheaper than replacing it. Even
STAR® for Small Businesses, you can activate free tech-                          Continued on page 2

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How to Establish an Eco-Friendly Medical Practice
                    Continued from page 1
an older device may still have life in it. Opting for repair upgrading returned products and parts to “as new” ap-
may save your practice thousands of dollars.                    pearance and performance. Not only does recycling old
     • Buy upgradeable gear. Some products can be up- electronic equipment keep hazardous materials out of
graded by replacing a single component instead of the landfills, it can cut your purchasing costs as well.
entire unit. This saves money and reduces waste.                      Implement an Electronic Records System
     • Buy all-in-one machines. Equipment that combines             Using your electronic equipment to override paper
multiple functions into one device, such as a printer with waste can be one of the biggest money-savers to your
scanning and fax capability, usually saves money and practice. According to the Environmental Protection
office space.                                                   Agency, each employee generates 1.5 pounds of waste
       Reuse or Resell                                                                        paper per day. Over time,
     • Resale. While you                                                                      that’s a lot of paper. With
may have outgrown a work-                                                                     charts, forms, and more
ing electronic or electrical                 Unexpected Benefits                              forms, it’s no wonder there
device, someone else may                 By making a choice to go green, you may reap         is so much paper waste in a
need that very item. Many           unexpected benefits—for example, an admirable             medical office. So, what can
firms specialize in buying          reputation as a conscientious and responsible medi-       you do to help the environ-
and selling used computers.         cal group that can lead to increased customer loy-        ment? First, your practice
     • Donations. Schools,          alty. Your efforts to help preserve the environment       may want to consider the
non-profits, and charitable         will not go unnoticed by your practice clientele.         implementation of an elec-
organizations often accept          Making the choice for your practice to go green           tronic health record (EHR)
working electronic and elec-        then becomes another great way to market your-            program, which means that
trical goods. Donations may         self while saving money.                                  an individual patient’s
be tax-deductible.                                                                            medical record is stored on
     • Dealer or manufac-                                                                     a computer rather than a
turer takeback. Some dealers, retailers, or manufacturers paper chart. It may be made up of electronic medical
will take back old equipment when new equipment is records (EMRs) from many locations and/or sources. A
purchased. This can save you the time and trouble of dis- variety of types of healthcare-related information may
posing of obsolete items.                                       be stored and accessed in this way. EHR systems are be-
                          Recycle                               lieved to increase physician efficiency and reduce costs
     • Recycling, once considered an extreme pastime for as well as promote standardization of care. Additionally,
an enthusiastic few, diverted 82 million tons of material physical records usually require significant amounts of
away from landfills and incinerators in 2006 – a great space to store them. When physical records are no longer
success and a definite necessity for the environment.           maintained, large amounts of costly storage space are no
     • Recycling, in fact, is one of the best environmental longer required. Paper, film, and other expensive physi-
success stories of the late 20th century. We usually think cal media usage (and therefore cost) is also reduced with
of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and used paper when electronic record storage. Furthermore, when paper
we think of recycling. However, if you’re going to be records are stored in different locations, collecting and
smart about recycling within the medical practice, you transporting them to a single location for review by a
must consider recycling everything possible, including healthcare provider is time-consuming. When paper (or
toner cartridges, plastic, aluminum, glass, all types of other types of) records are required in multiple locations,
paper, cardboard, telephone books, and especially elec- copying, faxing, and transporting costs are significant.
tronic products and equipment.                                  Even though EMR systems with computerized provider
     • As electronic products become obsolete or simply order entry (CPOE) have existed for more than 30 years,
wear out, the challenge arises for their safe disposal. You less than 10 percent of hospitals (as of 2006) have a fully
may want to seek office equipment with remanufactured integrated system.
or recycled parts. Most computer companies                                          Continued on page 3
remanufacture printers and copiers by rebuilding and

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How to Establish an Eco-Friendly Medical Practice
                        Continued from page 2
                 Minimize Paper Usage                                      Another way you can go green in your office is as
     If the development of an EHR is not an option for                easy as replacing a lightbulb – in fact, it is changing a
your medical practice, then encourage employees to re-                lightbulb. Did you know that incandescent bulbs use four
duce paper and ink by determining which activities can                times more energy than is necessary to produce light?
be accomplished online rather than generating a paper                 Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use 75% less energy
trail. Buy recycled paper and make full use of that paper             to produce the same amount of light, last 10 times longer,
by printing on both sides whenever possible. View docu-               and produce less heat.
ments on your computer and use e-mail to send docu-                        Optimizing the energy settings for computers and
ments rather than printing or faxing them; make hard                  other devices can be more than a modest energy saver.
copies only when necessary. Use discarded paper that is               Set computers to energy-saving settings, making sure to
only printed on one side for scratch paper. Do your proof-            shut them down when you leave for the day. “Standby”
reading and edits on your computer before printing to                 settings continue to draw power even when not in use.
reduce the number of prints you make. Most importantly,               Printers, scanners, and other peripherals used only occa-
have all of your practice information on the Internet for             sionally can be unplugged until they’re needed.
patients to retrieve instead of handing them a stack of                    A wealth of suggestions and products for energy con-
paper. Reuse file folders by placing new labels over the              servation in offices can be found online and with your
old ones. All of these changes are easy to make and can               local waste management service. Research available op-
have a big impact.                                                    tions and customize them to suit your practice needs.
       Reduce Your Office Energy Consumption                                Going Green Can Make a Huge Difference
     Are you aware that heating, cooling, and powering                     The efforts you make toward an eco-friendly medi-
office space are responsible for almost 40 percent of car-            cal practice don’t have to be large. You can change your
bon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and consume more than               buying habits to be greener in small ways – for example,
70 percent of total electricity usage? You can save about             by purchasing recycled paper products for office use.
10 percent on the electric bill for your practice simply by           Consistently reducing the amount of energy and paper
adjusting the thermostat by one or two degrees. Use au-               your medical practice uses can make a huge difference in
tomatic setback thermostats. These thermostats automati-              the long run, both to the environment and to your bottom
cally adjust the temperature settings for weekends and                line. Review your options with careful consideration:
evenings, when people are not in the office. Consider                 recycle parts, donate computers and their components to
outside air economizers that use outside air to cool down             schools or charities, or return equipment to the supplier.
buildings when the air outside is cooler than the air in-             Update your electronics to reduce operating costs over
side. Think about solar shading. You can use a reflective             time, and dispose of unusable products responsibly.
roof coating and/or window films and shading to reduce                     “Going green” is good for the environment, easier to
the amount of heat from the sun that penetrates your of-              implement than you might think, and can save your prac-
fice building. Keep the blinds closed. In the winter, this            tice money. Once you have committed to and employed
will conserve heat in the office and, in the summer, it               an environmentally sound, cost-saving strategy for your
will keep heat out.                                                   practice, you’ll find it’s easy being green!

For more information, contact BSM Consulting at 1-800-832-0609.

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