Challenges of automated sustainability data collection in healthcare – A multiple case study in large German hospitals

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Creative Sustainability
This thesis explores the challenges of automated sustainability data collection in healthcare concerning new CSRD reporting requirements, addressing the need for a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon and practical guidelines. The main objective of this study is to identify the factors that hinder automation and develop a model to overcome them. Existing literature on automated sustainability data collection in healthcare, which is scarce, mainly focuses on data collection, integration into existing systems, compliance, and reporting. A qualitative approach was employed, involving a multiple-case study with six case hospitals in Germany focusing on semi-structured interviews with eight participants to gain deeper insights into their experiences. The case study results were split into two categories. First, general sustainability aspects revealed complexity and personnel resources as the main challenges for the sustainability teams and pragmatism, external support, and process thinking as success factors. Furthermore, particularities in the industry and current focus topics were identified. Second, results tailored to the automated sustainability data were clustered. These include requirements and assumed benefits from automation software, current sustainability reporting methods, and the tools used to support these manual processes. The results were combined to form an Automated Sustainability Data Collection Readiness Roadmap, which describes the steps required to automate sustainability data collection, bringing practical value to hospitals. None of the sampled hospitals has yet realized an automation of their sustainability data collection. Therefore, the study can be considered as a pre-study. The findings underscore the importance of addressing these challenges to facilitate adopting automated sustainability data collection in hospitals, ultimately contributing to freeing valuable resources, more transparent reporting, and informed decision-making. On a theoretical level, the results provide a synthesized view of sustainability reporting, the particularities of the healthcare sector, and automated data collection while encouraging interdisciplinary insights. For managers, the study offers practical guidance for sustainability teams aiming to automate data collection.
Thesis advisor
Patala, Samuli
Lankoski, Leena
healthcare, automated data collection, sustainability reporting, CSRD
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