Adriana Allocato
Adriana Allocato (Research Manager, Health Insights, IDC Europe)
Silvia Piai
Silvia Piai (Research Director, Health Insights)

The healthcare industry is one of the largest and most sophisticated energy consumers. It is responsible for 4.4% of carbon emission globally.

Hospitals, for example, are typically among a territory’s most energy-intensive buildings. A plethora of medical equipment and healthcare facilities, on which patients’ lives depend, necessitate 24/7 power supply.

And within the same hospital, each of those facilities and departments has their own requirements in terms of access, lighting, temperature and humidity, cleanliness and air filtration, availability of water, power, medical gases, and communications.

However, European hospitals must prioritize the efforts to reduce energy consumption (and limit their carbon emissions in the process) without impacting the quality and safety of day-to-day care. 56% of healthcare organizations consider energy efficiency very important or extremely important (IDC Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey, May 2023) to limit the impact of unplanned outages on care services and achieve their strategic goals.

In this context, new regulation guidelines, such as carbon neutral Europe 2050, are driving investments to build smart and green healthcare infrastructures, with new hospital projects. Many of the funding related to healthcare sector recovery and resilience have been focused toward promoting sustainable investments, circular economy models, and expanding on the results of preexisting initiatives, as for example on green public procurement or the adoption of environmental management and audit systems.

The strategic intent is the alignment of the hospital core strategy with the sustainability strategy, where actions towards sustainability goals go beyond carbon footprint but also on building stronger adaptive capacity to respond to the changing demands, delivering higher quality, healthier and greener outcomes.

Energy efficient smart hospitals, in fact, can deliver important cost savings and sustainability benefits at the same time, while enhancing adaptive capacity and resilience along the healthcare value chain.


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Making Sustainability a Top Priority

While primarily built on new sustainable and environmentally friendly standards, energy efficient smart hospitals also adopt efficient and renewable energy applications in hospitals to create healthier healing and work environments, to reduce waste and improve environmental performance.

Energy efficiency is one of the key areas of sustainability initiatives. Our research confirms the strong connection between sustainability and healthcare providers’ key priorities and mission (IDC Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey, May 2023). Healthcare organizations, implementing sustainability in their operations, have experienced, or are expected to experience:

  • Improved financial performance (48%).
  • Improved patient satisfaction (42%).
  • Improved attractiveness for existing and potential employees (40%).

However, achieving greater and stronger sustainability is not the unique reason to boost energy efficiency efforts.

Re-shaping the Care Delivery Model to Be More Resilient Now and in the Future

Healthcare systems are currently working to renew the care delivery model and enhance hospitals to be more flexible to react to unforeseen events in the future and to the continuous market dynamics effects. The rising costs of energy and its impact on the overall operational efficiency are driving investments into IT infrastructure energy improvements to modernize the entire value chain to deliver higher quality, healthier and greener outcomes, positively impacting patients’ lives.

A good heating system correctly managed, for example, helps to reduce energy wastage whilst improving internal comfort conditions at the same time. Similarly, energy innovations like automatic lighting controls or the advantages of a natural and well-managed ventilation system for infection control are essential to eliminate the airborne bacteria in operating theaters and on the wards.

Embracing this new investment logic along the value chain will contribute to delivering better quality care in a more innovative way. In the long term these advantages will be translated into a more adaptive capacity and resilience of the hospitals to tackle operational challenges through a more energy efficient value chain.


Register for the webcast: Sustainability in EMEA: The Challenge of Moving from Ambition to Action


Realizing the Value of Technology Innovation

To achieve a more sustainable, efficient, and resilient approach to care, hospitals must invest in technology innovations. For 83% of healthcare organizations, a portion between 1% and 10% of their IT budget is already driven by sustainability-related actions.

From next-generation genomic sequencing to cloud computing or virtual care, technology innovations are supporting hospitals’ broader sustainability efforts. The benefits are, for example, in terms of a more efficient infrastructure, better access to health services and reduced energy consumption to travel to physical care settings.

Hence, it doesn’t surprise to see IT equipment vendors on top of the list of players to engage with when it comes to sustainability projects.

And I am sure this is just the start.

Stay tuned for upcoming research on topics such as technology innovation for more energy efficient smart hospitals and digitalization as a key enabler of ESG goals.

For any further information please contact Adriana Allocato, Research Manager, IDC Health Insights, Europe.

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