As the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) fast approaches, the voices of the global healthcare community must be heard in the negotiations on the climate.
Companies can – and must – play a crucial role in the fight against climate change by fulfilling their mission and respecting their ESG commitments. This has never been more important than now with the growing threat of climate change, systemic inequalities and global health disparities posing a real threat to people, communities and the planet.
The health sector is responsible for 4.4 to 4.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the global healthcare sector were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet, according to a report by Health Care Without Harm in collaboration with Arup.
As such, it is imperative that we turn our attention to health technologies that can help enable earlier, better and faster diagnosis and treatment for more people in need, while reducing or by eliminating our impact on the environment.
One of the many ways to combat the current climate crisis is to improve access to health care around the world, especially for the half of the world’s population who are underserved and cannot access essential health services. through digital and remote healthcare solutions.
To support a more sustainable future in the health sector, we must look for ways to help health systems improve their efficiency and reduce waste. With staffing shortages and growing patient numbers heightened by the pandemic, the healthcare industry must find ways to better utilize existing resources to provide care for more patients.
Digital and remote healthcare technologies are positively contributing to environmental change by eliminating patient “miles of care” traveling to and from healthcare facilities, as well as reducing the need for single-use personal protective equipment which have a high global warming potential.
As an innovation leader in medical technology and diagnostics, we develop efficiency features and leverage digital to transform even the largest medical equipment into devices that impact less on our planet.
We support the healthcare industry in the Middle East with solutions that provide a comprehensive, real-time view of patient status in a selected care area, hospital or entire healthcare system. In doing so, we enable the healthcare sector to reduce its carbon footprint and help countries meet their climate goals while helping clinical teams deliver responsive, timely and compliant care.
In remote and rural hospitals in the Middle East, for example, intensive care patients benefit from 24/7 monitoring with advanced software that collects patient data from multiple sources and monitors continuously the signs indicating that the patient is in difficulty.
If deterioration is detected, an alert is sent to a specialized tele-ICU team, which contacts the hospital’s bedside team and helps them deliver the right care immediately. This tele-USI solution has been deployed in Saudi Arabia and is helping the Kingdom achieve net zero by 2060. The remote counseling solution is also being used in other countries like Qatar and Turkey.
From a maintenance and repair perspective, our existing remote service technologies have kept healthcare equipment running throughout the pandemic and continue to do so today. In the Middle East, North East Africa and Turkey, more than 250 GE Healthcare field service engineers are supporting the growing demands of the region’s healthcare industry, which have resolved around a third of service issues from a distance.
In other cases, the power of remote monitoring can be seen in the case of cardiac patients transported by ambulance to the hospital. An ECG examination can be performed on the road and immediately forwarded to the receiving facility and physician, for rapid assessment of the patient’s condition, supporting decision-making on appropriate treatment.
Remote solutions also address the issue of application training limitations, which have played a critical role during the pandemic. Our Digital Expert solution, which is a new approach to application training with live and personalized face-to-face sessions, was delivered via a mobile tablet that easily connects to the system.
For years, we’ve focused on developing medical equipment with best-in-class image quality and advanced software to increase diagnostic confidence, but we challenge ourselves to be better.
An example is the development of a new magnetic resonance system, which is designed to reduce the use of helium in the system, a scarce and non-renewable resource, by up to 67%. The current version of the magnet is 2 tons lighter than its predecessor. We’ve also made it easy for medical staff to reduce MR power consumption and reduce exam time by up to 50%, which both saves resources and improves the patient experience. patient.
With emissions from the health sector exacerbating climate change and its negative effects on health, it is important to find sustainable solutions and adopt more green initiatives to advance climate change.
For health systems to become more sustainable, collaboration between the public and private sectors must become the norm. Without this, the full potential of remote healthcare technologies cannot be realized.
At GE Healthcare, climate action is integral to our mission to improve outcomes for patients, healthcare providers and researchers worldwide, and it is our responsibility to scale up our actions to further reduce our shows.
To help the region’s healthcare sector achieve its sustainability ambitions, we have committed to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and are setting ambitious Scope 1 and 2 targets for our own operations, in addition to develop scope 3 targets that align with global warming limits to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
With the ongoing pandemic and other health issues continuing to impact the global health industry, some actions to protect people and the planet will take longer to materialize. However, changing the way health care is currently delivered around the world will contribute to a more sustainable future for all.