Getting Warm

Climate change has become the one thing all religions are preaching against

Along with the Pope and Islamic leaders, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs have made moral arguments against climate change.

When Pope Francis chose to champion the battle against climate change via papal encyclical in June this year, the act was lauded as the one that could galvanise the world community far more than 30 years of pleading by climate scientists. Now Muslim leaders across the world have echoed the moral call against climate change with their Islamic Climate Declaration issued last week calling for a fossil-fuel phase-out.

Pope Francis acknowledged, first of all, that climate change is real. He also said that technology alone would not solve the problem and human behaviour must change to ensure that the world’s poor don’t suffer due to the consumption of the rich. The Islamic Climate Declaration recognises the scientific consensus on climate change is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere so that global warming does not exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The declaration is clear that a 1.5 degree Celsius warming would be preferable. It calls on people and leaders of all nations to aim to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and commit themselves to 100% renewable energy at the earliest possible.

In a recent interview to American science magazine Popular Science, climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe explained why religion is backing the fight against climate change. “Science can tell us why climate change is happening, and what might happen next,” she said. “But what we should do about it isn’t a science question. It’s a question of values.”

The Holy See and Islamic leaders have not been the first moral authorities to caution against climate change. Ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit in September 2014, the World Council of Churches and Religions for Peace, both prominent interfaith organisations, held their own summit to push for progress at the negotiations in Lima that December and after. In previous years Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh leaders have declared their war on climate change.

Hindu Declaration on Climate Change

Issued at the Parliament of World Religions in Australia in 2009, the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change drew on the Hindu tradition that links man to nature through physical, psychological and spiritual bonds. “The nations of the world have yet to agree upon a plan to ameliorate man's contribution to this complex change,” the declaration stated. “This is largely due to powerful forces in some nations which oppose any such attempt, challenging the very concept that unnatural climate change is occurring. Hindus everywhere should work toward an international consensus.” Issued just as the Copenhagen round of the Conference of Parties was beginning, the declaration had little impact on the talks that ended with a weak agreement and little binding action.

Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change

In 2009, the Dalai Lama was the first person to sign the Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change that endorsed the catastrophic tipping points of global warming. NASA climatologists had predicted that the safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 350 parts per million, a line that has already been breached. In May this year, atmospheric carbon crossed 400 ppm for the first time.

“We are challenged not only to reduce carbon emissions, but also to remove large quantities of carbon gas already present in the atmosphere,” the Buddhist declaration said. It also emphasised the need to change the priorities of the world economies. “The key to happiness is contentment rather than an ever-increasing abundance of goods. The compulsion to consume more and more is an expression of craving, the very thing the Buddha pinpointed as the root cause of suffering.”

The Dalai Lama has gone even further to say that the focus in Tibet, which is stuck in a losing battle for independence, should be climate change and not politics.

Sikh Statement on Climate Change

“Our Mother Earth, Mata Dharat, has gone through undeniable changes at the hands of humans. It is abundantly clear that our action has caused great damage to the atmosphere and is projected to cause even more damage if left unhandled,” said a statement released by a group called EcoSikh in September 2014. Calling on Sikhs to be the frontrunners of change and inviting the tenet of selfless service, the group asked Sikhs to reduce their carbon footprints, recycle, invest in renewable technologies and also put pressure on governments to take action to mitigate carbon emissions.

Orthodox Christians, Protestants, Baha’I and Jewish leaders have, in their turn, accepted the science of climate change and called on the faithful to save the earth. What the Pope and Islamic leaders have added is the influence of over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and 1.6 million Muslims worldwide, which is almost half the world’s population. For now, climate change seems to be the one science that world religions don’t seem to have a problem with, whether it will make a difference or not at the “make-or-break” Paris negotiations in December.

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What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

At the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, visitors don’t have to worry about navigating their way across the complex hospital premises. All they need to do is download wayfinding tools from the installed digital signage onto their smartphone and get step by step directions. Other hospitals have digital signage in surgical waiting rooms that share surgery updates with the anxious families waiting outside, or offer general information to visitors in waiting rooms. Many others use digital registration tools to reduce check-in time or have Smart TVs in patient rooms that serve educational and anxiety alleviating content.

Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.