Environmental impact system launch for healthcare providers

University researchers have created a new system which will highlight the environmental impact of the global healthcare sector.

Healthcare provision is viewed as a major contributor to the climate crisis, accounting for more than five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

To support the global transition towards sustainable health systems, researchers at Dalhousie University and Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) have launched a new open-access, interactive database of healthcare’s environmental impacts.

The HealthcareLCA database has been created to serve as an up-to-date evidence repository, bringing together new and existing assessments into one publicly accessible location. It currently houses over 4,000 environmental impact values for more than 1,400 healthcare products and activities, including equipment, pharmaceuticals, investigations, procedures, services, and overall health systems. The platform is interactive in nature, allowing users to sort, search and filter data according to their individual needs and interests.

Lead researcher Dr Jonathan Drew, adjunct surgery at Dalhousie University, said: “Countries are increasingly making pledges to achieve sustainable, low carbon health systems. The success of these commitments will depend on having an accurate measure of healthcare’s environmental impacts and making sure that people working within healthcare can access and use that information.”

HealthcareLCA is a collaboration between CASCADES (Creating a Sustainable Canadian Health System in a Climate Crisis), BSMS, and the Creating Sustainable Health Systems in a Climate Crisis flagship project at Dalhousie University’s Healthy Populations Institute (co-led by Dr Daniel Rainham and Dr. Sean Christie).

CASCADES director Fiona Miller, professor of health policy at the University of Toronto, said: “CASCADES is delighted to support this important tool and the practice change that it will enable. There is so much interest in Life Cycle Analyses among the healthcare community and this vital resource will help those embarking on such projects to build on one another’s successes and co-create transformative change across healthcare systems.”

Senior author Dr Chantelle Rizan, clinical lecturer in Sustainable Healthcare at BSMS, added: “HealthcareLCA creates an opportunity for health professionals to learn more about the environmental impacts of healthcare, providing accessible and easy-to-understand evidence for administrators and decision-makers. It will also help researchers find existing studies, identify important research gaps, and create new possibilities for synthesising the available evidence.”

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