What Coca-Cola can teach US healthcare

Coca-Cola, among other corporate giants, is leading the charge to report accurate data on how its operations affect climate and environment, something the U.S. healthcare industry could use as a model, according to a Yale News article published Feb. 10.

While around 90 percent of S&P 500 companies produce annual sustainability reports, most healthcare organizations, hospitals and health systems do not. A new analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst suggests hospitals could learn from those companies.

"The healthcare sector, which is responsible for 18 percent of the U.S. economy, should be leading the rest of industry in its environmental performance. Instead, healthcare organizations are lagging far behind," said Jodi Sherman, MD, an associate professor of anesthesiology and epidemiology at Yale and an author of the analysis. "We need data, not anecdotes."

The authors of the analysis argue that health systems should publicly report their climate impacts, such as on-site fuel burning, electricity usage and supply and greenhouse gas emissions related to their operations among other measures. 

These disclosures could benefit the companies financially given that investors and lenders are increasingly climate-conscious.

"If Coca-Cola and Walmart can tell people what they’re doing to protect their human capital and the planet, then why shouldn’t hospitals?" said Emily Senay, a co-author of the analysis and an assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at New York City-based Mount Sinai Hospital.

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