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Healthcare Industry Waste Estimates Are Off By Billions

Garbage bags on an orange background.

Industry estimates put the amount of perfectly good medical product wasted every year around $15 Million. We think they're wrong by about $4.85 Billion.

A few brave souls have tried to sift through mountains of data - to say nothing of the garbage itself - in order to gain an accurate view of how many medical supplies go to waste every year. We've tried ourselves. That's why we know that it's not easy. 

One of the biggest impediments to gaining an accurate estimate of the amount of waste hospitals produce in 2021 is that the most recent studies are from studies conducted in 2013. And, as a journalist found out while researching the topic in 2010, many of the data points available were gathered as far back as the 1990s

We know that the total number of hospitals decreased from over 6500 to around 6100 at the time of those studies. We also know that the number has further dipped to around 5100 in 2021. But knowing how much the total number of hospitals - and hospital beds - has decreased doesn't necessarily give us an accurate estimate of how much the total amount of waste has changed. Would you estimate that it's gone down? 

We wouldn't. We also disagree with the calculations of industrywide waste. Z5 Inventory's data says that waste is woefully underestimated. 

See How Z5 Saved $16 Million From Expiration

Most of these studies and observations are taken from the perspective of a patient - either for a hospital stay or an outpatient procedure - which gives you a good idea of how many supplies go to each bed, but it fails to show you how much is being thrown away behind the scenes. 

Because, between patients, the clinical and supply chain staff who are pulling product and refilling shelves are throwing a decent amount of that product away. That product has expired and isn't any good to the provider or patient anymore. 

Z5's thousands of analyses on hundreds of hospital inventories revealed that as much as 30% of every hospital's on-hand inventory is bound straight for the trash. It will expire before it can be used and be thrown away. 

But, unlike the doomsayers who report the trouble without suggesting any solutions, we have experience solving the problem. 

As one example, we determined that Steward Health Care hospitals had over $25 Million worth of supplies that were headed for the landfill. And we were able to help those hospitals prevent the expiration of more than $16 Million worth of those supplies. Because, in the case of excess inventory, one hospital's trash is very literally another's treasure. 

Let us show you how. 

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