We all know the deal: reuse, reduce, and recycle. And yet, as of 2009, the US was producing 251 million tons of trash each year. Only 53.4% of all paper products were recycled, while only 32.5% of total waste was recycled (stats from Sustainablog). So, yes, we know the deal, but are we doing all we can? Hopefully, your clinic recycles, and if it doesn’t, that’s my first tip: recycle and make sure you’re following your waste management service’s recycling rules.

Of course, there’s so much more that your clinic can do to help the environment than simply recycling. Here are four ways to go green in your clinic:

1.) Ditch the paper.
You might be thinking: “Of course, WebPT, an EMR, would say the first step is to ditch the paper.” But we speak the truth, and we’re not just talking about your SOAP notes. (Although going digital with your documentation is a monumental step in eliminating paper use and waste in your clinic.) The Green Business Bureau and Inc. gives these pointers:

  • Encourage communications by email—not standard mail. Read email messages on screen rather than print.
  • Save receipts, invoices, and other crucial documents as PDFs rather than printing. (With WebPT, check out eDoc.)
  • Eliminate cover sheets and avoid faxing whenever possible. Also, fax directly from your computer (like you can with WebPT) to avoid printing a copy to fax.
  • Produce double-sided documents whenever possible, use old letterhead for scratch paper, and reuse packaging materials for any items you might ship.

One more paper ditching tip: make all patient forms downloadable from your website. According to a PT Magazine article entitled “PTs and PTAs Going Green,” downloadable forms “will reduce your costs, make your patients and clients happier, and prevent overprinting and stockpiling.” Within the article, Elizabeth Hampton, PT, BCIA-PMDB, owner of Core Therapeutics Physical Therapy in Bellingham, Washington says that this effort has been one of their greatest cost savings: “‘We no longer have to spend time and money printing out the forms ourselves, or pay for those blasted ink cartridges and all the postage. I’d say 60 to 70 percent of our clients download their own forms.’”

2.) Cut the throwaways.
This one is simple. Eliminate all plasticware, paper plates, and solo cups from your break room. Purchase some inexpensive plates, cups, and silverware and have staff use, wash, and reuse. Furthermore, buy economy size packages of cleaning products, trash bags, office supplies, etc. to eliminate packaging waste. If you can purchase clinical supplies that also use minimal packaging, even better.

3.) Communicate your efforts and buy green.
Jumping off of my second tip, when you’re purchasing supplies and materials for your clinic, communicate your environmentally-conscious efforts and buy green:

  • Investigate office supplies made of recycled materials, such as recycled paper (for when you do need to print).
  • Partner with suppliers who take back packaging for reuse.
  • Inquire with all suppliers about sustainable products and when possible, buy recycled, refurbished, biodegradable, or used. Inc. recommends, you “make the environment, and not just price, a factor when purchasing.”
  • Search for greener products and services on a local level. According to The Green Business Bureau, “the further your supplies or service providers have to travel, the more energy [they’ll] use to get them to you.”
  • Find alternatives to all toxic products, such as batteries, copier toner, and even cleaning and beauty products. Wholly green PT clinic Body Solutions, Inc. in New Jersey uses all natural and non-toxic soaps, cleaners, lotions, etc. If there are certain toxic products you cannot find alternatives for, make sure you learn how to properly dispose of them.

4.) Rethink transportation.
Encourage patients and staff alike to rethink their commutes. It can be as easy as:

  • installing bicycle racks
  • offering instructions on your website of how to access your clinic via public transit
  • providing preferred parking for carpoolers

Or, you can up the ante a little and create incentives. For example, the green PT clinic I mentioned above offers discounts to patients who use hybrid cars. Furthermore, full-time employees of Central Physical Therapy and Fitness in Seattle “can select monthly bus passes as part of their benefits package, and any patient who walks, cycles, or takes public transportation to the clinic [receives] a bus ticket for future use,” according to “PTs and PTAs Going Green.” And while the bus tickets do costs the clinic (roughly $15 a month says clinic co-owner Jutta Schneider, PT, MSPT), the action creates a goodwill vibe, contributes to their green efforts, and has won the clinic both clients and staff.

Lastly, if possible, teleconference for business purposes rather than traveling. According to Inc, “for must-go trips, keep track of the miles driven and flown and buy ‘carbon offsets’ from a nonprofit like to make up for the greenhouse gas emissions.”

Those are my tips, and they’re literally just the tip of tips. What does your clinic do to go green?

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article Oct 8, 2012

4 Reasons You Should Ditch the Pen & Paper—and Go Digital with EMR

Today’s blog post comes from WebPT copywriters Charlotte Bohnett and Erica Cohen. Paper shredding, filing, shuffling, stacking. Basically, there’s nothing appealing about paper documentation, especially if it’s a quagmire of quarrelsome patient charts—handwritten, faded, and sharp as all get out—just waiting to wreak havoc on your soft, supple paper-cut-fearing fingers. And don’t even get us started on ink stains. Of course, there are reasons beyond paper cuts and ruined shirts to ditch the pen and paper , …

article Jan 17, 2012

Top Tips from Real EMR Users

Haven’t made the switch from paper to an EMR (electronic medical record) yet? It’s natural to have hesitations and concerns. When you’re making a big decision, it’s sometimes helpful to hear from those who have gone before you.  Our friend, Katie Matlack, over at Software Advice recently conducted interviews with several companies currently using EMRs. As a result, she was able to compile a list of the top 8 pieces of advice from real users . One …

article Apr 22, 2013

Quick Tips for Improving Work Efficiency in Your Rehab Therapy Clinic

As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve dedicated a sizeable portion of this month’s blog space to helping you and your clinic conserve resources and become more environmentally conscious. But let’s not forget about the most important resource of all—your time! You might assume that you need a major systematic overhaul to improve work efficiency in your clinic. Not so. In this case, small investments pay big dividends. Here are some quick tips to help you get the most …

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article Mar 20, 2014

Scale for Success

Managing growth within a multi-location organization through standardization, communication, and inclusion In today’s ultra-competitive healthcare environment, it is crucial to the success of your organization to take advantage of every possible opportunity to grow despite competitive threats from much larger players. One of the main reasons organizations attempt to grow is to take advantage of the many benefits (otherwise known as “economies of scale”) that result from such growth. As clinic owners, when we think of growth, …

article Apr 16, 2013

The Truth About Paper: Recycling Isn’t Enough

By this point, you know the importance of recycling—why “going green” isn’t only good for the environment but good for your clinic. But there’s more to it than simply putting out a blue bin (although that certainly helps).  In order to really make an impact, we have to start much sooner—we have to pay attention to our consumption. The less we consume (use), the better it is for all of us—our world, our children, and our children’s …

article Apr 12, 2011

7 things to look for when evaluating EMR software

1.     Google the Company – What is being said and written about the company? User message boards and forums as well as articles often talk about EMR companies both positively and negatively. Look for articles that mention companies who have recently cut their staff or burned through millions of dollars that was raised in financing. Also Google industry keywords (Physical Therapy EMR; PT Software, etc) – companies that show up at or near the top of the …

article Apr 2, 2013

April Founder Letter: Take Your Practice for a Walk on the Green Side

It’s April. And that means spring has sprung. Even though many across the country would argue that winter is still hanging on for dear life, the leaves will soon unfurl and the sun will shine. So what does this mean for you and your practice? It means now’s the time to shake off the winter doldrums and spring forward (see what I did there?) into new beginnings. Spring means energy, vibrancy, and positivity, so be sure to …

article Apr 15, 2011

Automating Your PT Practice Documentation is the Green thing to Do

There are many costs that go into running a physical therapy (PT) practice that are above and beyond just the equipment and expertise needed to care for your patients. The costs of running an office, overhead and other supplies must be put into the budget. One of the biggest costs is the overhead of managing your PT practice documentation. That is a cost that is easy to lose control over, especially if you have mountains of paperwork …

article May 3, 2012

Did you know May is Better Speech and Hearing month?

Thanks to Marissa for sharing this innovative use of technology for therapy with us today! Marissa A. Barrera, MS, MPhil, MSCS, TSHH, CCC-SLP is the owner of New York Neurogenic Speech-Language Pathology, P.C., a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) and Professor of Acquired Motor Speech & Swallowing Disorders. With private practices located in Midtown and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Marissa and her team of SLPs feel privileged to provide therapeutic services to hundreds of patients each …

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