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Three ways to drive sustainability in healthcare

May 07, 2021
Business Affairs

Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all not only means providing better access to care, it also means driving down the cost of care. In the developed world, due to the aging population and corresponding increase in chronic disease, healthcare costs are rising at an unsustainable rate. In the U.S. for example, it amounted to around 17% of GDP in 2018 and continues to rise faster than GDP growth. Yet, as recently as 2017, 50% of the world’s population still lacked access to essential healthcare services. The situation is compounded by the fact that populations that can afford high quality healthcare consume a disproportionate amount of the Earth’s resources. At the current rate, we will need 1.6 Earths to sustain current levels of consumption. We only have one, so we not only need to increase access to care and reduce the cost of care, we also need to embrace circular economy business models that allow us to deliver healthcare without overconsuming finite resources.

Three steps toward low-carbon, sustainable healthcare (for all)
Health technology companies not only need to drive sustainability in their own innovation, but also partner with customers to co-create solutions that reduce emissions across entire patient pathway and along supply chains. This includes adopting circular models for materials to maximize the energy-efficient use of medical equipment and optimize its lifecycle value. Here are three ways to drive sustainable operations:

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Use 100% renewable energy & apply EcoDesign at scale: When setting sustainability goals, organizations should consider where they can offset unavoidable CO₂ emissions by investing in renewable energy sources elsewhere. For example, Philips has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming fully carbon-neutral by 2025, reducing CO₂ emissions throughout its value chain in accordance with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C global warming scenario, a target it is well on the way to achieving. The company is already carbon neutral in its operations, and where CO₂ emissions are unavoidable, it compensates them by financing projects with additional health benefits in developing regions of the world. In the U.S. and the Netherlands, Philips powers its operations via consortium-led bulk-purchase renewable energy agreements with local windfarms and virtual Power Purchase Agreements to help fund new windfarm installations, such the one in the Mutkalampi municipality in Finland. Organizations can also complement their own renewable energy initiatives with energy savings driven by reduced business travel, electrification of the company’s vehicle fleet, and sea- and rail-based logistics rather than air freight.

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