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Taking Earth Day to Heart

Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement.

With increased awareness around how each individual can be more environmentally responsible coupled with a heightened focus government policy about the environment, there have been many significant milestones to celebrate.  Many environmentalists and policymakers are discussing looking towards the future with regard to reducing carbon footprints, saving energy, and restoring the world’s deteriorating ecosystems. 

Even with all the tremendous momentum on environmental issues over the past years, change has been hard. It has a long time to understand why changing people’s behavior is not only good on an individual level, but also for the environment. 

Just like the environment, the healthcare industry faces similar obstacles around change.  Even with more focus than ever on important issues such as patient safety and efficiency, the healthcare industry still battles resistance when it comes to improving patient safety and efficiency.   

Did you know that:

  1. Eight out of 10 U.S. hospitals operate below 80% occupancy. Interestingly, many hospitals that operate around 60% occupancy "feel full." This is the result of sub-optimized scheduling and processes that inefficiently use capacity. To continue to improve outcomes and remain financially viable, our healthcare system must improve capacity utilization. 
  2. A large body of research shows that if nurses spend more time in direct patient care, clinical outcomes are better and complications are fewer.  The typical nurse spends only about 30 percent of his or her day in direct patient care. The rest of the time they are on the phone, looking for other staff or equipment, tracking down medications, charting at a central nurses’ station, running errands.
  3. Industries with a perceived higher risk of safety such as aviation have a much better safety record than health care. There is a one in 1,000,000 chance of a traveler being harmed while in an aircraft. In comparison, there is a one in 300 chance of a patient being harmed during health care.  
  4. The economic benefits of improving patient safety are compelling. Studies show that additional hospitalization, litigation costs, infections acquired in hospitals, lost income, disability and medical expenses have cost some countries between US$ 6 billion and US$ 29 billion a year.

Progress has been made to address some of these safety and efficiency needs across the healthcare industry, but much work still needs to be accomplished.  Healthcare industry leaders are hopeful that one day, just like the environment, people will look towards the future of patient safety with optimism.

GE Healthcare's Performance Solutions business partners with hospitals and health systems across the globe to improve their overall performance and share ownership of sustaining outcomes.   With the unique combination of advisory, technology and healthcare expertise, the business help its clients identify and reduce unnecessary waste coming from underutilization of resources, unintended clinical variation and fragmented care delivery, and create safer more efficient patient care.

Through the GE Patient Safety Organization, Performance Solutions is helping hospitals better report and analyze their patient safety data to gain actionable insights to address the near and actual misses.  Working to address OR scheduling inefficiencies, Performance Solutions worked with Moffitt Cancer Center to better manage their OR schedule which resulted in additional capacity for 900 more cancer cases per year.  These are two small examples, but just imagine the impact this could have if you multiply these results across the country and the globe.  

GE Healthcare celebrates Earth Day 2011 and encourages everyone to work towards both a better environment as well as safer and more efficient patient care.

Happy Earth Day 2011!