On our 21st birthday, our team at HealthCare21 covered the significant advancements within the healthcare sector that occurred over the past 21 years. We will now be posting 21 developments that will be shaping the future of medical communications and healthcare delivery.
12.It is easy to imagine a sustainable healthcare system – it goes on forever within the limits of financial, social and environmental resources. The challenge is the current approach to delivering healthcare and how it cannot continue in the same way and stay within these limits. A sustainable healthcare sector involves ‘greening’ the sector with particular focus on energy, travel, waste, procurement, water, infrastructure adaptation and buildings. This ensures resources (physical, financial and human) used in the sector are used efficiently (e.g., buildings and homes are well insulated and use less fuel to heat) and responsibly (e.g., clinical waste is disposed of safely to protect local people).
Sustainable healthcare involves working across the health system and in tandem with partners to deliver medical support that provides financial, social and environmental return on investment. It includes adapting how we deliver services, health promotion, disease prevention, corporate social responsibility and developing more sustainable models of care. Sustainable health and wellbeing is the broadest level and involves considering the sustainability of everything that impacts on health and wellbeing (e.g., education, farming, banking, etc.).
The Fit for the Future initiative is exploring scenarios for the healthcare system in England in 2030. It was commissioned by the NHS Sustainable Development Unit to help healthcare organisations think about the medium- and long-term future and understand and prepare for their role. Fit for the Future is focused on the four scenarios of service transformation, efficiency first, redefining progress and environmental war economy, and recommends five key steps to creating a sustainable, low-carbon healthcare system which is prepared for whatever the future holds. These include:
1.Supporting people in taking responsibility for their own health
2.Build greater acceptance of ICT in healthcare provision
3.Work to find the low-carbon/high quality of life sweet spot
4.Allocate resources to promote health rather than treat illness
5.Ensure the healthcare system takes a leadership role in the radical change we need to face climate change