Life Sciences Hub Wales

Bob McClean, Chief Commercial Officer, Kinsetsu, shares how making financial savings in healthcare through using technologies like the Internet Of Things can also drive environmental efficiencies in our latest guest blog.  


Can saving money save Mankind and the Earth? It’s an interesting question and without thinking too deeply, the quick answer you might arrive at is “No, Silly! No amount of money is going to buy us a new planet.” At a time when we’re asking people to take personal responsibility for their environmental footprint, it’s worth looking a little more closely though at the link between the provision of our health services and the drive towards Net Zero.   

Net Zero is defined as a target of completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To me, the last bit sounds “sciencey” and in my head at least, means scrub the air and/or plant more trees.  There’s obviously a lot more to it than that, but it’s the reduction bit I’m thinking about. 

A recent experience with a health care trust in Wales brought it into sharp focus for me. Kinsetsu provide a whole raft of Internet of Things (IoT) real time location-based services to a number of hospitals in Wales. For those who don’t know what that means, IoT allows interconnection through the internet of computing devices embedded in different objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Through this, we proudly feel we’re making a difference to the cost and quality of health care being provided.   

Our solutions mean over-stretched clinical staff don’t waste time trying to find the equipment or things that they need (pumps, syringe drivers, beds, workstations, pathology samples, trolley, wheelchairs, etc. – the list is almost literally endless). Less time wasted equals better, more economic health care.   

As a supplier to healthcare, we’re naturally focused on the numbers. We can trot out facts like Wales NHS spends about £6.9billion annually  on hospitals, community and special services, and if you subtract employment and premises costs, almost £2 billon is on “things”.  And as an IoT provider, we’re all about the things. However, supplying to the public sector is all about the business case and trying to ensure that they get value for money for the public purse. You can’t really argue with that – nobody wants to see time or money wasted. 

Of course, most public sector tenders these days also ask about ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance, and everyone has a policy but can we really equate what we save our customers from a time and financial perspective with a contribution to Net Zero?  I think we can. We may not currently be able to put a number on it, but we know that we’re helping. 

Let me give you a simple example. At Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board we got asked to extend the use of our platform to help them locate and track all their medical gas cylinders across their estate. No Net Zero there? Wrong. Actually, the business case was driven by the fact that since they weren’t always sure where the cylinders were, they had to procure more than they actually needed.  So yes, the immediate benefit was financial. But think about all those extra cylinders they had bought. Think about the energy used and emissions created by mining the material to make the steel, by the manufacturing process to fabricate the cylinders, by the plant needed to fill them with gas and by the trains, ships and lorries that are inevitably used in moving them about during their lifecycle.  

As John Harris, Head of Pharmacy said “At a glance, I can see the location of cylinders and traceability of their journey. Additionally, I can identify what cylinder is due to expire and its last known location. Having this information helps us manage supply and reduce risk, seamlessly”.  Waste costs money.  But it also costs carbon. 

So in answer to the question I posed at the start of the blog, yes it’s possible to balance cost savings and environmentally friendly decision making. Because both can be more efficient for an organisation, which is definitely the case when applying the Iot. 

To learn more about Kinsetsu could help you make vital savings whilst helping to create a greener tomorrow, please visit their website.