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Sustainability spotlight

Steps to pursue sustainable healthcare entrepreneurship

Article-Steps to pursue sustainable healthcare entrepreneurship

Image via Canva Pro healthcare entrepreneurship
Sustainable best practices give healthcare start-ups a competitive edge in a saturated market.

Healthcare entrepreneurs need to adopt innovative strategies and harness new technology to build resilient healthcare systems that could not only address long-standing industry challenges, but also foster a culture of sustainability in the business.

Ayman Eissa, Head of Sustainable Development — For Generations at Boehringer Ingelheim, IMETA, spoke to Omnia Health about the crossroads of innovation and sustainability in healthcare entrepreneurship, shedding light on the ways leaders can leverage technology and partnerships to achieve their goals.

In addition, Naser Al Yammahi, Deputy CEO of Hayat Biotech, commented key considerations around sustainability that healthcare entrepreneurs should keep in mind when starting a business in 2023.

Excerpts from the interview:

Sustainability in healthcare entrepreneurship

Innovation plays an integral role in making healthcare entrepreneurship sustainable, according to Eissa. “Adopting an innovative approach means building more resilient systems that can address pressing concerns on a long-term basis. When it comes to social entrepreneurship within the scope of improving healthcare access and services to vulnerable communities, integrating technology has the potential to vastly transform outcomes and impact lives,” he said.

Related: The ever-changing healthcare start-up ecosystem

Boehringer Ingelheim, for instance, has a long-term commitment titled Sustainable Development - For Generations framework (SD4G). It features three pillars, namely, ‘More Health’, which offers equitable health for patients with non-communicable diseases in underserved communities under the “Access to Healthcare Program”, ‘More Potential’ pillar that fosters collaborations with social entrepreneurs to identify new and better ways of improving health globally via tech integration under the “Making More Health” programme; and ‘More Green’ that focuses on a range of environmental initiatives ranging from implementing strategies to curb waste and pollution to developing environmentally sustainable products.

Key points to integrate sustainability in business

According to Al Yammahi, healthcare entrepreneurs should adopt a diligent approach to reduce their carbon footprint at each stage of operations. This includes consciously sourcing raw materials in the supply chain while keeping track of footprints created through production, storage, and transportation channels. He added that promoting equitable access to quality healthcare forms the cornerstone of a sustainable healthcare entity besides constantly upholding high safety and ethical standards. “For instance, when we established Hayat Biotech, our commitment to the ‘One Health’ concept was paramount in shaping our sustainability approach. It highlights the interconnectivity between animal health, human health, and the environment. By collaborating and coordinating with a wider multisectoral network, we can work towards having an impact on human and animal health by considering and protecting their shared environments,” Al Yammahi said.

Naser Al Yammahi, Deputy CEO of Hayat Biotech

Naser Al Yammahi, Deputy CEO of Hayat Biotech

He added that leading organisations are often eager to work alongside suppliers that adhere to sustainable practices. Emphasis also lies on equitable healthcare access and foster partnerships with key stakeholders and academic institutions to educate future generations about the critical role that the life sciences sector plays in safeguarding humanity in the long run. “Upholding rigorous data protection practices is also elemental in maintaining high ethical standards and ensuring patient privacy,” he added.

Best practices for healthcare entrepreneurs

When it comes to innovation, engaging with local communities takes priority, said Eissa. This ranges from building trust and strengthening relationships with local authorities, NGOs, and members of the community that have an in-depth understanding of their community’s needs in relation to human and animal health.

Ayman Eissa, Head of Sustainable Development

Ayman Eissa, Head of Sustainable Development — For Generations at Boehringer Ingelheim, IMETA

“Open communication around challenges and potential solutions can give healthcare entrepreneurs deeper and more relevant insights to base their decisions on. Developing partnerships with industry stakeholders also has the potential to broaden collaborative efforts and allows for knowledge exchanges to take place for mutual objectives to be met,” he said. Customers are at the heart of success for any healthcare start-up. “In an increasingly crowded space for healthcare entrepreneurs, providing a seamless customer experience and ensuring that their input and feedback is addressed efficiently is what will ultimately differentiate one entity over the other,” said Eissa.

RelatedThe link between enhanced health and indoor air quality

Profitable strategies for sustainable business models Initial investments in renewable energy often involve significant capital expenditure. It is wise to focus these spends on the procurement of machinery and developing internal systems. “When considering long-term profitability, this approach enables sustained savings to be realised at a later stage. By prioritising efficient resource management, optimising energy and water usage, streamlining processes, and adopting digital solutions to reduce paper consumption, startups can achieve significant cost cutting resulting in increased efficiencies that contribute to both financial success and upholding environmental responsibility,” said Al Yammahi.

He added that the addition of innovative technologies like remote patient monitoring can provide sustainable healthcare services that minimise the need for physical transportation and reduce carbon emissions.

“Collaborating with sustainability focused companies enables startups to have valuable knowledge exchanges, learn and implement best practices, and achieve cost reductions while increasing market visibility. By seamlessly integrating these sustainable practices, we can maintain profitability and competitiveness while making a positive impact on the environment,” he said.

Challenges and solutions for sustainable practice

Eissa highlighted data-related privacy issues as a common challenge that affects the safety and efficiency of information collection and analysis.

This is due to the rapid evolution of technology versus the speed of policy approvals for innovative products. “Healthcare entrepreneurs also need to factor in risks such as software interruption and cybercrimes and place extensive security mechanisms to safeguard their operations. Throughout their journey, start-ups need to keep learning and maximise their sustainable social impact,” he concluded.

This article appears in Omnia Health magazine. Read the full issue online today.

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