The COVID-19 pandemic caused ongoing disruptions to global supply chains in 2021. We continued to strategically invest in people, processes and emerging technology to promote supply chain resilience and agility. Through the efficient and effective delivery of products and services, our Supply Chain & Support Services (SCSS) team supports caregivers, communities and our commitment to exceptional care and experiences for patients. SCSS oversees nearly 4,500 contracts and price agreements, facilitates the purchase of more than 5.9 million goods and services and manages the movement of products across more than 2,200 locations. By centralizing procurement across the enterprise, we ensure better pricing, availability, support, quality and consistency. The six main categories of our purchasing include: patient care supplies, non-clinical/administrative, pharmaceuticals, construction and facility maintenance, IT systems and clinical equipment.
Cleveland Clinic is committed to using our purchasing power to make a positive impact by increasing our spend with suppliers that are local, diverse and committed to corporate social responsibility. Additionally, we promote sustainable practices within our supply chain by integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into our procurement process and engaging with our suppliers. For example, we outline expectations for our vendors related to sustainability in our Supplier Handbook, including:
- Complying with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards outlined in the United Nations Global Compact, and assessments of their performance in these areas.
- Supporting our efforts to track and minimize the environmental impacts of our supply chain by providing metrics on climate resilience, energy conservation, green building, healthy/local/sustainable foods, safer chemicals, waste reduction, recycling and water stewardship.
Other efforts include interviewing suppliers as part of our materiality process, incorporating sustainability criteria into requests for proposals and supplier agreements, evaluating products and suppliers for ESG impacts and engaging directly with suppliers and Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) on sustainability initiatives and data requests.
Green purchasing is a natural extension of our commitment to healthy buildings, which supports the well-being of the caregivers, patients and visitors who spend time in our facilities. Our green purchasing priorities include:
- Eliminating mercury, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP).
- Supporting circular economy efforts to minimize resource use and waste.
- Procuring items with reputable, third-party certifications for sustainable attributes and safer, healthier ingredients.
- Minimizing packaging waste and the transportation footprint of products and services.
- Reducing hazardous waste and bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs).
Some examples of progress we made on these priorities in 2021 include meeting Healthcare Without Harm’s Healthy Interiors Criteria for 99% of our furniture purchases and receiving a three star Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Purchaser Award for our commitment to procuring green electronics. We received the EPEAT award from the Green Electronics Council in 2021 for purchasing only desktops and cell phones that had achieved EPEAT Gold level certification.
Healthcare Anchor Network Impact Purchasing Commitment
In 2020, Cleveland Clinic joined the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN), a national collaboration of leading healthcare systems committed to using their purchasing power to address the economic, racial and environmental resource disparities that impact community health. We also signed HAN’s Impact Purchasing Commitment, which includes goals related to supplier diversity, sustainability and community wealth building.
Within five years, all signatories commit to achieving at least four of seven core sustainability goals, which HAN developed in partnership with Practice Greenhealth. In 2021, Cleveland Clinic selected the following goals to achieve by 2025:
- Furniture and Furnishings: eliminate the use of priority chemicals of concern in 30% of annual furnishing and furniture purchases.
- Sustainable Food: 20% of total food purchases meet sustainable criteria that support local systems and healthful production practices.
- Anesthetic Gas Reduction: reduce GHG emissions specific to anesthetic gas by 5% from baseline.
- PVC/DEHP Reduction: eliminate both PVC and DEHP from at least 2 of 8 priority medical product categories.
Gartner 2021 Top Healthcare Supply Chain
For the second time in four years, Cleveland Clinic was named as the top healthcare supply chain by Gartner in its 2021 annual Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 list. In its 13th year, the Gartner Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 used quantitative measures and opinion to identify, celebrate and profile health systems that were effectively navigating a post-pandemic landscape through excellence in supply chain management.
In 2021, our Supply Chain & Support Services (SCSS) team was recognized for a number of key initiatives as part of this year’s ranking, including our:
- Dedication to sourcing excellence.
- Innovative implementation of technology across procedural areas.
- Planning for home care delivery of healthy meals for select patients.
- Commitment to diverse and local spend through the Healthcare Anchor Network commitment and other initiatives.
This is the fourth consecutive year we have been listed in the top three, and the sixth-straight year we have been recognized as a top 10 honoree.
Sharing sustainable practices
Through collaboration and best practice sharing with other healthcare systems, suppliers and Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs), we seek to collectively promote the adoption and acceleration of sustainable practices throughout the healthcare supply chain. Some of the ways we exchange information with peers include attending and presenting/co-presenting at conferences, participation in cohorts via Practice Greenhealth, benchmarking and direct outreach.
Cleveland Clinic also serves as a member of Vizient’s Environmental Advisory Council. Vizient is the largest GPO in the country, serving more than 50% of US acute care providers. The role of the council, which includes Cleveland Clinic and 14 other health systems, is to advise Vizient on its environmentally-preferred purchasing strategy. As part of this strategy, Vizient engages with suppliers to disclose 23 environmental performance metrics at the product level, including chemicals of concern, recyclability, recycled content and packaging. By serving on the council, Cleveland Clinic and peer healthcare organizations can reach a greater number of suppliers to promote sustainable practices and standardize data requests.
Healthy, Local and Sustainable Food
We serve meals, snacks and beverages to millions of patients, visitors and caregivers at our food service locations each year, and are committed to providing options that promote human and environmental health. Some of our efforts include:
- Offering freshly prepared foods and plant forward entrée stations.
- Highlighting healthy and sustainable choices on menus.
- Eliminating options that are fried and/or contain trans fat, high fructose corn syrup and added sugars or syrups.
- Using criteria to evaluate food for sustainable attributes, such as Health Care Without Harm’s Sustainably-Raised Meat and Poultry guide; Practice Greenhealth’s Healthy Beverage and Less Meat, Better Meat criteria; Third-party animal welfare certifications, such as Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership; and USDA-approved label claims.
- Sourcing food from local (within 250 miles) and sustainable sources.
COVID-19 surges impacted food service demand in 2021, but we continued to work with our food service providers to increase our healthy, local and sustainable food offerings. Local foods can be more flavorful and can offer a greater density and variety of nutrients due to being picked and offered at peak freshness. Additionally, locally sourced foods benefit local economies and reduce the environmental impacts of products by significantly reducing their transportation footprint. We include local, sustainable and healthy food criteria in our food service contracts, and work with our providers to gather and review product data to measure our progress. As of the end of 2021, 43% of the food we purchased for our main campus was local or from farms and producers that use sustainable practices.
Farmers market program
In 2021, we hosted our 13th annual farmers market season to provide fresh, local produce to community members, patients, visitors and caregivers. We hosted markets at Crile Mall on our main campus and at multiple regional hospitals and family health centers. To promote accessibility, we offer the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons at our markets. Additionally, guests at our markets can park for free up to one hour or more, depending on the location. To provide a safe experience for vendors and customers, we continued to operate the market in accordance with CDC guidelines and best practices on COVID-19.