Building a global Net-Zero Healthcare 4.0 ecosystem

    University of Miami digital strategistInstitute SEI Founder, Revexpo Consulting Founder, CEO Softthread, Ethicist, Innovator.

    The net-zero economy is poised to grow exponentially over the next decade and will affect all industries, including healthcare and life sciences. Developing a global healthcare zero ecosystem is a moral imperative, as well as a business imperative. It requires significant multi-stakeholder collaboration and harmonization with other key current global initiatives and efforts, such as the transition to genomics-driven precision health, equitable health, and smart health efforts that will leverage the next generation of the Internet called Web3.

    When we examine each industry’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, we realize the importance of achieving a zero health care ecosystem as health care is a major culprit, accounting for 4.6% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, this statistic is even more concerning as health care contributes 8.5% of the national carbon emission level. While the transition to Healthcare 4.0 is exciting for the future of population and public health, it could also increase these emissions exponentially if we don’t start to shift the paradigm and focus on a net-zero approach.

    In 2021, healthcare institutions will represent more than 3,000 institutions in 18 countries entered the United Nations race and commit to halving climate emissions by 2030 to reach net zero by 2050. The main action points to be achieved by these healthcare stakeholders by 2050 are outlined in a roadmap called Healthcare without harm. This roadmap contains policy recommendations, factsheets, technical architecture specifications and methodologies that can be used to achieve the ambitious goal of creating a zero-focused healthcare renaissance.

    The New England Journal of Medicine took a leading role in 2021 by addressing the possibility of mandatory reporting of emissions to reach net zero. In addition, several reputable healthcare institutions and NGOs have expressed the need to accelerate efforts and sign the agreement Climate promise in the health sector in 2022.

    The evolution of healthcare has mirrored the industrial revolutions, and we are currently experiencing the pinnacle of healthcare 4.0 as we prepare for our transition to healthcare 5.0. Several emerging, groundbreaking technologies dominate the current industrial landscape and can play an important role in accelerating the path to a net-zero healthcare ecosystem. Some of these include blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, high-speed networks such as 5G and 6G, satellite-assisted internet, cloud and edge computing, big data and virtual health powered by a wide range of smart devices, sensors and wearables. We are also witnessing the transition to the next generation of the World Wide Web (Web3), as well as the increased development of advanced genomics-driven precision health solutions, 3D printed bioimplants and the early implementation of brain-computer interfaces.

    Smart health cities

    The goal of a smart city is to improve the quality of life, work and education for its citizens and businesses by improving and/or adding city services that can optimize their efficiency and viability. They need a state-of-the-art healthcare infrastructure that leverages cutting-edge technologies to deliver a redesigned, personalized, people-centered, and precise health ecosystem. Smart health cities will focus on wellness, prevention and longevity and will move from acute care to managing chronic disease.

    Net-zero healthcare aims to combat the climate crisis while improving population and public health. Currently, the focus is on a number of high-impact areas that need to be further developed, such as materials science and energy use for healthcare facilities, healthcare-related transport, healthy nutrition, clean water and an ESG-aware medical supply chain in which eco-packaging and ESG-friendly management of medical waste.

    Possible routes: the quadrium

    We need a holistic approach to build a net-zero healthcare 4.0 ecosystem on a global level. We could see our approach as a quadrium comprising four pillars: leadership, education, digital transformation and impact investing. Emerging leaders who want to succeed in building a net-zero health ecosystem must demonstrate a complex portfolio of skills. A sustainability-focused leadership style in healthcare requires applied digital ethics, cyber resilience, ESG insight, high risk tolerance, versatility in management styles suited to a global workforce, and leading with purpose.

    Education can bridge the existing digital and financial divides that are still major barriers to promoting and sustaining a net-zero health economy. Web3 offers a new opportunity to disrupt the education landscape and pave the way for the future global workforce. To be successful, global multi-stakeholder, public-private partnerships must be forged and new financing tools and new business models developed to meet the needs of the complex digital disruption that must take place to achieve the ambitious net-zero goals .

    Challenges and opportunities

    Some of the challenges we face as a society include a lack of digital trust, cybersecurity threats, high costs, regulatory compliance and major labor shortages. Establishing proactive digital ethics and cyber resilience programs will be essential. In addition, groundbreaking technologies can also be deployed to address some of these challenges. For example, digital twins, next generation blockchain technologies and quantum computing can be powerful tools for monitoring zero efforts, setting quality standards and tracking ESG goals in the global zero healthcare ecosystem.

    The complex portfolio of tools (AI, edge and cloud computing, federated learning, and zero-trust cybersecurity architecture) can significantly augment current net-zero health efforts. The transition to Web3 will certainly present challenges; however, it can also be a powerful catalyst to accelerate the achievement of a net-zero healthcare economy.

    Future directions

    According to Healthcare without harm, “More than 60 governments, accounting for more than 47% of net global health care emissions, have committed to low-carbon, climate-resilient health systems.” I hope others will join in the near future. Perhaps the development of a new net-zero health care performance index can contribute to or accelerate this global effort. We can also envision further scientific advancements that can be built upon Nvidia Earth-2 efforts to build a digital health twin for smart cities and communities and deliver the critical strategic intelligence needed to reach the global net-zero healthcare ecosystem. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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