The continuing acceleration of climate change is one that will undoubtedly impact healthcare systems nationwide placing personnel and facilities to the test as more extreme circumstances take hold. This is the opinion many healthcare stakeholders have, according to a recent report from Deloitte, and why healthcare as a whole has come to feel a broader sense of urgency related to climate change.
The report is the first to have been dedicated to addressing climate change and healthcare by the organization, with a separate study broadly addressing sustainability released earlier this year. Elizabeth Baca, a specialist leader for Health Care and Life Sciences Strategies at Deloitte, addressed the nature of the report in an article with Fierce Healthcare, stating the significant acceleration of interest in healthcare’s role in climate change over the pandemic.
As climate change accelerates, the report predicts, mounting health issues from worsening weather catastrophes is likely to take hold, additionally driving up the cost of healthcare and driving deeper inequities in population health. With the healthcare system addressing nearly 10% of worldwide emissions, Deloitte sees a considerable role facilities have to play.
In many situations, response to climate change has become an organizational priority among healthcare facilities. However, Deloitte still states that there is a considerable amount to be done when addressing climate change within the healthcare sector. Investments in renewable energy, decarbonization and energy efficiency, as well as more resilient buildings and operations will be key, Deloitte says in their assessment.
3 Strategies Healthcare Can Adopt to Address Climate Change in Facilities and Operations
In its assessment, Deloitte spoke to more than 15 U.S.-based organizations regarding their challenges, initiatives and successes addressing climate change within their facilities. Pulling from these accounts, as well as expert weigh-ins, the report laid out three main strategies for healthcare facilities to address climate change at multiple levels. These strategies represent Mitigation, Adaptation and Transformation.
Mitigation strategies are those that address emission contributions through the use of renewables and waste management, which also includes improving operational efficiencies on top of other initiatives. Adaptational strategies are those that focus on making investments in climate-resilient infrastructure while also accounting for social drivers of health as greater changes take hold. Finally, Transformational strategies focus on the development of new products and services.
Core to these efforts, as Deloitte advises, should be to push beyond net-zero, citing efforts by Genetech as an example. The organization plans on lowering its direct emissions to ‘true-zero’ while also lowering emissions related to purchased energy by 2050. Additionally, every organization, no matter the size, should aim to have a leader dedicated to its sustainability agenda while also overseeing the broader ESG portfolio at facilities.
“Even if your organization has prioritized environmental and climate issues for some years, these strategic questions and considerations can still be leveraged to do a health check on your current path,” the report concludes. “They can help ensure that you are thinking holistically about climate change, health, and your organization in your current efforts and, if necessary, can help recalibrate your priority areas and investments appropriately with your organization’s overarching, long-term vision, and the Future of Health ecosystem.”
The full report can be viewed on Deloitte’s website, here.