Testing the sustainable hospital.

Based on a feasibility study an interdisciplinary team of researchers supports hospital practitioners implementing the concept of sustainable development in a pilot hospital. Changes within three key areas should lead to significant improvements.

Short Description




Initial situation / Motivation

Building on a feasibility study, the "sustainable hospital" was tested in a setting of intensive cross-disciplinary cooperation over a period of two years. Top management and employees from the medical and nursing sectors of the pilot hospital, the Otto Wagner Spital, were involved in the study, together with a representative of the general management board of the Vienna Hospital Association (KAV), the director of the Immanuel Diakonie Group (Berlin) and an interdisciplinary reseach team.


We understand sustainability in the hospital setting as an integrated treatment of social, economic and ecological aspects, which is oriented towards maintaining the hospital's relationship with the relevant social and natural environments in the long term. This should ensure that tendencies to defer solving problems are avoided and that "robust" and sustainable solutions are found to the major challenges that confront hospitals and our health care system today.

Objectives and content

The objective of the project was to relate sustainability to the already introduced concepts of health promotion, quality and environmental management and employee- and patient-focussed approaches and to anchor sustainability as an important basic business management principle at the pilot hospital. To establish the "sustainable hospital" successfully, a good case must be made for the potential benefits to hospitals and the contribution to social sustainability must be evident. This was tested in three priority areas for sustainable development in hospital;

  1. Sustainable business management: Introduction of sustainability in normative and operational management of the pilot hospital.
  2. Sustainable provision planning: Planning of a new provision model for long-term ventilator-dependent patients ("Weaning Center") according to sustainable development criteria. Needs survey for the KAV and evidence of savings/ improvement potential.
  3. Sustainable service provision at ward level: Potential for implementing sustainability in the working life of the hospital.

Key findings

A working understanding of "sustainable hospital" developed together with key actors.

From the three sub-projects: (1) Target and measurement system for a hospital (SBSC). Concept linking EFQM and SBSC (2) Needs-related provision planning for chronically ill patients: Calculation model and evidence of improvement and savings potential for the Vienna KAV (3) Sustainability evaluation of processes in the wards of a pilot department.

Evidence of benefits (added value) which a hospital can generate by adopting the criteria of sustainable development.


Sustainability can easily be integrated with health concepts that have already been introduced and due to its integrative effect, brings added value to hospital practices. In examples, it was possible to optimize core services in accordance with multiple criteria, enabling significant relief effects from ecological, social and economic pressures to be identified without deferring problem-solving.

Project Partners

Project management

  • OA Dr. Karl Purzner (Projektleitung Praxis)
    SMZ Otto Wagner Spital, Wien
  • DI Willi Haas, Mag. Ulli Weisz (Stvt. PL)
    Institut für Soziale Ökologie, Wien, Fakultät für Interdisziplinäre Forschung und Fortbildung, Universität Klagenfurt, Standort Wien

Project collaborator science

  • Univ. Prof. Dr. Jürgen M. Pelikan; Mag. Bea Kendlbacher; Hermann Schmied
    Ludwig Boltzmann Institut Health Promotion Research, Wien
  • Mag. Monika Himpelmann
    Austria Recycling & Co. Consulting GmbH, Wien

Project collaborator praxis ( core team )

  • SMZ Otto Wagner Spital:
    Dr. Sonja Anders, Dir. DI Josef Aumayr, QM DGKP Reinhard Bachmann, Abt. Vst. Prim. Dr. Harald David, OSr. DGKS Elisabeth Haberl, OA Dr. Sylvia Hartl; OA Dr. Hannelore Monschein; StatPfl DGKP Michael Prebio; StatSr. DGKS Christine Standfest, OA Dr. Elisabeth Schlieber-Jernek und MitarbeiterInnen der Pilotabteilungen
  • Mag. Margit Wiederschwinger
    Wiener Krankenanstaltenverbund, Generaldirektion, Geschäftsbereich Qualitätsarbeit
  • Mag. Elimar Brandt und Prof. Dr. Dr. Werner Schmidt
    Immanuel Diakonie Group, Berlin

Contact Address

DI Willi Haas
Institut für soziale Ökologie, IFF, Universität Klagenfurt
Schottenfeldgasse 29
1070 Wien
Tel.: +43 (1) 522 4000-422
E-Mail: willi.haas@uni-klu.ac.at