Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference. As I walked the show floor, spoke with our customers and partners and listened to the powerful words of Cisco’s Senior Vice President and Global Innovation Officer, Guy Diedrich, during his mainstage presentation, one topic in particular resonated with me. Sustainability.  

As business leaders and technologists, we have a moral obligation to connect everyone, be ethical stewards of technology and protect our planet. The time is now for us to invest in sustainable practices in healthcare and beyond.  

Cisco is committed to ensuring a sustainable and regenerative planet with ongoing initiatives and solutions aimed at reducing emissions and addressing climate change.  

If we don’t take action, collectively as a society, we will have a detrimental and irreversible impact on our planet. In short, we are running out of time.  

Cisco’s purpose 

Cisco’s purpose is to power an inclusive future for all.  

To achieve our purpose, we leverage our technology and inspire our people to make a positive impact in communities worldwide and on the planet. Each word in our purpose has a meaning. The word future speaks specifically to our sustainability initiatives.  

In September 2021, Cisco committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of the time by which climate scientists say the planet must reach net zero to avoid the worst effects of climate change.1

We will achieve our goal by continuing to increase the energy efficiency of our products, accelerating use of renewable energy, embracing hybrid work, investing in carbon removal solutions, and further embedding sustainability and circular economy principles across our business. 

Did you know that despite the magnitude of the climate crisis, less than 2 percent of all philanthropic dollars are currently spent in the fight against climate change? That’s why the Cisco Foundation announced a new 10-year, US$100 million commitment to fund nonprofit grants and impact investing in climate solutions.1

Sustainability in healthcare 

Creating a sustainable and regenerative planet is no small task. But we can begin with meaningful steps and thoughtful use of technology to lessen our impact on the planet. In healthcare, we are taking those meaningful steps through the use of smart and sustainable hospitals, telehealth and digital front door.   

As an industry, healthcare accounts for 4.4–4.6% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.2  The U.S. healthcare system accounts for almost one quarter of these emissions, a figure which grew by 6% between 2010 and 2018.3 These emissions contribute to climate change and indirectly lead to reduced health outcomes. 

At the recent United Nations Climate Change conference, COP26, a group of 50 countries committed to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems. 

These countries are committed to reducing the impact their health systems have on CO2 emissions and climate change. The dual objectives of a climate-resilient and low carbon health system were emphasized by an open letter from over 450 healthcare providers representing more than 46 million healthcare workers around the world. This group warned the climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity and calls on world leaders to deliver on climate action. 

So, what can healthcare organizations do to help meet sustainability targets and lessen their impact on climate change?  

Let’s start with smart hospitals  

Smart hospitals securely connect clinical, operational, and business systems, applications, users, and data across physical healthcare facilities for a more automated and sustainable experience.  

A smart hospital can harness the fourth utility to deliver reduced power consumption, which leads to enhanced building operations, lower cost of ongoing operations, improved space and asset utilization, and most importantly, reduction of carbon footprint.  

Interested to learn more? See how one hospital in South Korea achieved greater efficiencies with integrated network management solutions.   

Telehealth and digital front door  

As a result of the pandemic, patients have never been more invested in the management of their health. Patients want to manage their health at the time and in the place most convenient for them – telehealth and omnichannel appointment management (digital front door) are the new norm.  

But telehealth and digital front door aren’t just tools that improve the patient experience. They also have significant impacts on sustainability targets.  

Less travel time to and from appointments and the opportunity for remote work for providers and contact center agents helps reduce emissions and lowers carbon footprint.  

What’s next?   

The climate crisis cannot be solved by one person, organization, nation, or community.  

We must come together as partners, innovators, and communities worldwide to help bring about a shared vision of a sustainable and regenerative world. 

To learn more about Cisco’s mission, register for our event “Powering an Inclusive & Sustainable Future for All” on April 20th. To see how Cisco is helping healthcare organizations meet sustainability targets, visit Cisco portfolio explorer for healthcare or if you would like to speak to someone on any of the topics above, click here and the proper Cisco contact will reach out to you.


  1. Cisco’s Inclusive Future Report 
  2. Health Care Pollution And Public Health Damage In The United States: An Update, Health Affairs 
  3. Telehealth may help reduce medicine’s carbon footprint, Healthcare IT News 


Cliff Thomas

SVP and General Manager, Global Enterprise Segment, Americas