What Will Healthcare Look Like In A Carbon-constrained World?



"The climate crisis necessitates urgent decarbonisation. Many healthcare systems are carbon and resource intensive and will need to transition to innovative, low carbon models of care. The ‘green��™ initiatives currently underway in many healthcare organisations are insufficient given the scale of decarbonisation required. In her doctoral research, Kate Charlesworth conducted interviews in which 15 healthcare thought leaders from around the world, were asked what a future, environmentally sustainable healthcare system might look like. Interviewees had to think broadly and creatively about new (low carbon) sources of value in healthcare. They envisaged redesigning healthcare around an anticipatory approach using predictive analytics and drawing upon strategies from social media. They suggested rethinking the role of healthcare within society, and using the size and influence of the health sector to leverage changes within the local economy. In her presentation, Kate will outline the overarching themes from her research, citing international examples of leading approaches to environmental sustainability in healthcare. Keywords: Climate change Sustainability Systems thinking, systems reform Research Key Messages 1. Many healthcare systems are carbon and resource intensive and will need to transition to low carbon models of care. 2. Many of the ‘green’ initiatives currently underway in healthcare organisations are patently insufficient, given the scale of decarbonisation required. 3. My research suggests that to achieve environmentally sustainable healthcare, we will have to think broadly and creatively to redesign healthcare around new sources of value, use an anticipatory approach based on predictive analytics and rethink healthcare’s role as part of a societal system. "


Kate Charlesworth

University of Canberra

Kate Charlesworth MBBS (Hons), MPH, FAFPHM, PhD Candidate
Dr Kate Charlesworth is a public health physician in Sydney. She previously worked in the UK as a Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and then at the Sustainable Development Unit (http://www.sduhealth.org.uk/) which is a world-leading unit tasked with reducing the carbon footprint of the National Health Service. Her main interest is in low-carbon, sustainable healthcare, and she is currently in the final stages of a PhD looking at the characteristics of a future, environmentally sustainable health and social care system and the transition towards it.