The capacity of healthcare systems to manage and protect population health
To limit the vulnerability of health infrastructure, healthcare systems increasingly need to be strengthened so that they continue to be efficient and responsive to improve population health in an unstable and changing climate.
A prime example of this is solutions that improve people’s health and well-being, while respecting the planet. Research indicates that the resource savings unlocked by digital information and communication technology for instance, outweigh the increase in the footprint caused by the rollout of that technology. Therefore, the shift to digitalization presents the opportunity to improve the sector’s environmental footprint by enabling dematerialization and optimized use of resources, while driving access to care to protect population health. It enables remote interactions between caregivers and patients, and among caregivers. This could potentially reduce the need for physical healthcare facilities, in turn lowering consumption of materials and energy, as well as travel. Last but not least, digital technology enables the use of generic hardware such as tablets and cellphones, which means less need to produce dedicated devices, as with our portable ultrasound solution, Lumify.
But more so, the industry needs to actively counteract our impact on the environment to safeguard future health capacity while restoring the foundations for healthy lives and sustainable livelihoods. For instance, while Philips is carbon neutral in its operations as of 2020, our role doesn’t stop there. We have now broadened our climate target to have an environmental impact beyond our own operations; we plan to increase the combined impact we make, working with our customers and across our supply chain, over the next five years. Through a collaborative approach and proactive ways of working in the supply chain, in 2020 we already improved the year-on-year sustainability performance of suppliers that entered the program in 2019 by 36%.
In addition, we continue with our carbon compensation programs that help improve biodiversity for additional health benefits. We have been working to reduce our CO2 emissions by rethinking business models, driving the adoption of circular practices, and applying EcoDesign principles to all our products, in turn putting more focus on the energy efficiency of our solutions.
Impact of climate change on human health
Climate change has a direct impact on human health through injuries or illness from extreme weather events; illness related to air quality or as a result of food systems, water, and sanitation .