While climate change is impacting healthcare, healthcare is hugely impacting climate change. Emissions from patients travelling to and from healthcare facilities contributes to the sector’s carbon footprint.
For many years, our healthcare solutions have supported Heart of Australia’s mobile clinics to deliver point of care medical diagnosis and treatment to patients in regional communities in Queensland, reaching more Australians in need of specialist care. As of 2021, Heart of Australia has saved its patients travelling 2.4 million kilometres by removing the need to travel to a specialist. The distance saved equates to travelling around Australia 170 times, or the globe nearly 61 times, significantly reducing the environmental impact of treatments for remote patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the door to reimaging healthcare delivery. Shifting routine care away from hospital settings with the adoption of telemedicine and virtual care models makes care more accessible and patient centered, with the added benefit of reducing our carbon footprint. Moving our solutions to the cloud can also support our customers in lowering their environmental impact. Cloud-based software saves on the materials needed for on-site enterprise hardware and servers, and studies have shown that 84% less power is used when customers use large, centralized cloud-based data centers instead of on-premises infrastructure.
The largest category for emissions in healthcare is in the supply chain , where more than 70 per cent of emissions are embedded (known as Scope 3 emissions). To further ensure that our partners are working in environmentally responsible ways, Philips created the global Supplier Sustainability Declaration, which details our expectations and commitment to acting responsibly towards our planet. This not only helps us to meet our own sustainability goals by creating cleaner supply chains but responds to the goals more broadly outlined by global and regional associations.
Our ongoing commitment to the adoption and implementation of new, environmentally conscious ways of working has given way to various grassroots initiatives by Philips employees. In Australia, this includes eliminating approximately 100 tons of carbon emissions by switching to a hybrid fleet, a project spearheaded by our Market Procurement Manager, Anthony Bartlett.
We’ve put climate change and minimising environmental harm at the heart of everything we do at Philips. Our initiatives, along with global reports like the IPCC’s help us stay accountable, giving us the opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made, while looking to the future to ensure we are continuing to create positive changes that benefit patients, health systems and the environment around us.
As an industry we have some large issues to be solved. We haven’t figured it out all yet, but what we do know is that we need to team up with our employees, partners, customers and suppliers in healthcare, to deliver sustainable value and a green future in healthcare.