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How is the health care system doing in terms of sustainability?

June 8, 2022

A healthy environment is a basic prerequisite for health. But how sustainable is the healthcare system itself? In Germany, more than 100,000 medical practices, around 50,000 dentists in private practice and almost 19,000 public pharmacies provide outpatient care. Therefore, Deutsche Apotheker- und Ärztebank (apoBank) wanted to know what the situation is regarding sustainability in German practices and pharmacies, what significance the topic has for established health care professionals and what obstacles exist. A total of 500 self-employed general practitioners, specialists, dentists and pharmacists took part in the survey.

The study shows that sustainability is an important issue in German practices and pharmacies: for 61 percent of respondents, it has a high priority, and for 28 percent it is even very important. On a scale of 1 (not sustainable) to 10 (very sustainable), healthcare professionals gave their practices and pharmacies an average rating of 6.2. The biggest drivers for greater sustainability are their own convictions and social responsibility toward the next generation.

Disposal management at the top of the agenda

Almost all of the ecological measures surveyed are already taken into account by at least half of the practices - first and foremost disposal management, for example waste separation, recycling or the use of reusable products. This is closely followed by resource-conserving energy consumption, whether through green electricity or energy-efficient equipment, or digitization in the sense of a paperless practice or pharmacy. Asked about their own motivation, the majority cite not only intrinsic factors such as personal conviction and social responsibility, but also a reduction in operating costs.

On the other hand, a lack of sustainable alternatives as well as a high expenditure of time and money are among the criteria that tend to slow down sustainable development.

Responsibility on the part of politicians and themselves

At 90 percent, almost everyone agrees that measures that have a positive effect on the environment and climate simultaneously improve health and enhance quality of life. In order to promote more sustainable healthcare, 88 percent feel that politicians have a responsibility. However, 75 percent also feel responsible themselves for encouraging patients to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

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