Three steps to investing more sustainably in assets and equipment

In it for the long term — how hospitals can invest sustainably in assets and equipment.

In a sector dedicated to the long term health of our nation, sustainability is an important priority. Hospitals and healthcare providers are increasingly focussing on building sustainability into every aspect of the way they deliver care, for a healthier future for Australia.

Assets as a pillar of sustainability

A key sustainability focus is the way in which providers purchase and use assets and equipment — from ICT hardware to operating tables and life support systems. These are a significant investment, and the way you procure and manage them contributes to the overall sustainability of your healthcare facility.

A vision for the future Health System

NSW Health recently published its 20 year Health Infrastructure Strategy, which looks at how the service will meet the changing health needs of the communities it serves. The strategy recognises the importance of smarter investment in and utilisation of assets to achieve its ‘vision for the future health system’.

The two top priorities that NSW Health identifies when it comes to investment decisions are:

  • Maintain existing assets
  • Make better use of existing assets


These will ‘enable a greater range, and more sustainable options to shape the future health system’.

The hurdles

Hospitals and health providers will almost certainly identify with and share these goals. They also recognise that there are, at present, hurdles that stand between them and achieving these priorities, including interoperabilty, equipment repairs and ‘downtime’, not knowing where equipment is and staff skills in using equipment.

Three steps to investing more sustainably in assets and equipment

1. Choose the right equipment — get the right advice

When it comes to hospital equipment, not all options are created equal, and the decisions made now can affect the sustainability profile of your organisation for years to come.

It’s important to know the environmental standards under which manufacturers design, make and distribute their products. Also its life expectancy which impacts how frequently you’ll have to replace it. Some equipment is designed for a life of five, ten or even up to twelve years.

Of course, it’s not just the equipment but the consumables too, such as anaesthetic gases. But some suppliers recognise and are addressing this issue.

2. Support — for maximum usage and long life

Making best use of your assets means ensuring that they are always available for use. Tracking, maintenance and repairs are effective tools in the fight for environmental sustainability.

Lost or stolen equipment costs the health sector millions of dollars and staff spend up to 10% of their time searching for it. Real-time tracking reduces this expense and ensures maximum usage and benefit. It’s important to have equipment regularly serviced to protect against failure taking it out of action, and to have access to a rapid repair service if something does go wrong, so that you can get equipment back into working order quickly.

3. Supplier standards

Being sustainable is not just about what you do, but about your supply chain. Your suppliers’ operations have a knock-on impact on the hospital’s overall long-term sustainability. It’s good to ask all your equipment suppliers about their practices, so that you are not unknowingly supporting forced labour, unethical practices or non-sustainable environmental outcomes.

The way ahead

Sustainability is at the heart of a forward looking health service. Your choice of equipment, selection of supplier and management of your assets very much play into your sustainability profile. As NSW Health recognises, meeting future needs is based on investing strategically and in maintaining and making the best possible use of assets.

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