May 16, 2022
"I reserve the right to be smarter today than I was yesterday."
By Renato Discenza
— Konrad Adenauer
I remember hearing this quote early in my professional career. I thought it was one of those esoteric, means nothing, quotes. I was wrong.
These words, coming from Konrad Adenauer, who was the oldest statesmen in Europe, have some credibility. He saw WWI, WWII and was the first chancellor of West Germany post WWII. He presided over the world-order-defining Cold War era. Reflecting on how the turbulence in Europe today has re-ignited in the most tragic way, I wonder if collectively we have learned the lessons of his words.
As we think about where we are with our planet today politically, environmentally, and socially it would be easy to throw up our hands and feel resigned to the tides of fate.
I don’t accept this premise when it comes to sustainability. HealthPRO does not accept this premise of inevitability either. We have decided to work with our members, suppliers, and global partners to get smarter today.
On April 26th, HealthPRO hosted our first-ever “Sustainability Rounds”. This event convened healthcare professionals from across the global supply chain. We discussed best practices for making the sector more sustainable for the planet, the people working within it, and ultimately, for the patients we are trying to heal. Part of our effort to “get smarter”, was to learn from partners who already looked at the impact of healthcare’s supply chain. If you want to get smarter, you must be willing to accept new realities.
The theme of the Sustainability Rounds was "RENEW". As we emerge from a difficult period, the sector needs renewed energy, renewed ideas, and a renewed commitment to sustainability. With climate-related disasters increasing each year, leading to heat waves and food shortages, it is evident that climate change is not just an environmental crisis: it is a health crisis too. We are entrusted to heal. We cannot harm as we do this.
We asked event participants “what areas of sustainability are you interested in learning more about moving forward?” Overwhelmingly, sixty-four per cent (64%) responded that the most important thing was to learn more about “tangible actions organizations can take immediately”. Twenty-six per cent (26%) of delegates, responded, that they would like to learn more about “case studies of what other suppliers or organizations have done to improve”. This response led us to focus on two key deliverables:
- Bringing fresh new ideas to our sector that can be implemented immediately, and,
- Offering insights into jurisdictions who have implemented successful policies.
Daniel Eriksson, Founder/CEO of the Nordic Center for Sustainable Healthcare, affirmed that “we need to move quite fast, […] and we can't sit and wait and reinvent things that are already have been done somewhere else in the world.” HealthPRO’s new initiative is bringing these perspectives and ideas from around the world. It is helping our sector at home to innovate and build on proven ideas.
Peter Smith, U.K. author of Procurement with Purpose, was the first in a series of international speakers. Peter emphasized the importance of getting “beyond the initial conversation” and working with suppliers to find solutions that work.
Our global showcase panel continued with insights from healthcare procurement experts based in the UK, Sweden, and Germany.
To ensure we did indeed go, “beyond the initial conversation”, we launched our Health Without Harm Pledge. This initiative is an opportunity for our community of suppliers, members, broader sector stakeholders and government partners to set their own goals.
Our approach to the sustainability discussion strives to curate and disseminate knowledge. Members and other stakeholders are then in a better position to choose approaches that fit with their capacities and desired outcomes.
HealthPRO believes that Canadian healthcare is best served when organizations are committed to actively seeking out and implementing more sustainable policies and practices. We believe that a commitment to sustainability is multi-pronged: it must address the social, environmental, and economic challenges.
We invite you to take the pledge and share something your organization is doing to tackle the challenges of increasing sustainability.
Today, I have my own version of Adenaur’s quote: “We reserve the right, and indeed have the obligation, to be smarter today than we were yesterday.”
We have an opportunity to eschew the notion that we are subject to the tides of Fates and create our own better future in healthcare. We can be flotsam and jetsam, being tossed toward some tragic scenario, in quiet acceptance of doom, or we can take control, get smarter, and change a future that is not inevitable.
PS: If you missed sustainability Rounds and would like to look at our inaugural event, click here to watch the recorded sessions.