When I – Jan Kimpen – was CEO of a large hospital in the Netherlands just over five years ago, I felt responsible for delivering the best care to our patients, and at the same time, responsible for implementing sustainable practices. But I never connected the two.
We were front runners in sustainability in the Netherlands; we had one of the greenest servers in Europe, and solar panels on our roofs. We did all this to reduce waste, save money, and be a responsible company so that people would be attracted to work for us. Though like many healthcare leaders, I suspect, I never thought of sustainability as something that would improve the lives of the patients that came to our hospital, nor the doctors who cared for them.
Since joining Philips I now see these elements as intrinsically linked. At our company, we look at sustainability through the lens of three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations: responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), climate action (SDG 13), and good health and well-being (UN SDG 3), which addresses the challenge of delivering high quality care to more people. At Philips, we see all three topics as interrelated.
And yet, I still hear from medical leaders who struggle to see the correlation. They want to know why a patient would choose a hospital with sustainability credentials over one without, and why a doctor would choose to work at one. And so I got together recently with my colleague Robert Metzke, who is Global Head of Sustainability at Philips, to explore why sustainable hospitals deliver better care. Here are three reasons: