Sharing the benefits and building capacity for sustainable healthcare in the US

Date:  05 April 2024

Sharing the benefits and building capacity for sustainable healthcare in the US

With a growing body of research demonstrating both cost savings and enhanced employee engagement, leadership interest in environmental sustainability continues to gain momentum. For the second year running, the Geneva Sustainability Centre’s faculty joined the line-up and presented a Boot Camp (on Sunday 24 March 2024) as part of the programme at the ACHE Congress in Chicago. Gathering participants from across ACHE’s network in the US and beyond, the full-day session was packed with sustainability know-how and enthusiastically received.

The scene was set with the day’s learning objectives: to discover best practices in pursuit of net-zero goals in healthcare settings while also achieving health equity, quality, efficiency, and engagement; and to design individual action plans for implementing sustainability strategies tailored to organizational needs, resources, and vision.

Topics covered included the role and responsibilities of the healthcare sector with respect to climate change, and of healthcare leaders to integrate environmental sustainability into their strategies and planning, fitting naturally with their commitment to improve health in their communities. Discussion focused heavily on actions that any healthcare provider could take to begin, or to advance, the integration of sustainability, for example, in prevention, practice, and patient pathways. Initiatives include resource and workflow optimization, low-carbon and preventative clinical models, creating a culture of sustainability amongst the leadership team and healthcare workforce, partnerships and collaborations in the community, and technological solutions such as telemedicine.

This year’s Boot Camp was led by:

  • Andrew Garman, the Geneva Sustainability Centre’s Senior Leadership Development Advisor, and Professor of health systems management at Rush University in Chicago.
  • Seema Wadhwa, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship at Kaiser Permanente, and named in TIME magazine’s list of the 100 most influential climate leaders in business 2023.
  • Keynote speaker: Dr Jonathan Perlin, President and CEO of The Joint Commission Enterprise, and one of Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare of 2023.

Always a highlight of the Geneva Sustainability Centre’s workshops and training, the group were guided through the Carbon Emissions Learning Lab (CELL). Developed for hospital leaders and powered with real-world data, CELL offers a simulation that empowers informed decision-making. Users quickly see the impact of their choices on the environment and can devise strategies to reduce their environmental footprint while improving operations and service delivery. As part of the Boot Camp, participants worked in small groups to act as an executive team making budget decisions over a multi-year period and then they came together to compare strategies, data, and discuss learnings to take away and implement in their own organizations. The group were particularly enthused about the opportunity to review individual decisions and their impacts on indicators such as emissions, financials, and patient experience.

The Boot Camp closed with a key component of learning activities – each participant shared their reflections and personal commitments to take forward on their return to their organization. And the Geneva Sustainability Centre team will remain in contact to share their sustainability journeys, and achievements, in the future.

Written by:

Katherine Bennett

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