Penny Pinnock is business development manager at Siemens Financial Services UK (SFS). Penny is an Asset Finance expert and focuses on building relationships and understanding customer requirements to intelligently tailor our solutions and deliver clear outcomes. Outside of work, she’s a proud wife and busy mum to two beautiful boys – and loves to socialise with friends.

In recent years, digital capabilities in healthcare technology have been shown to enable greater access and productivity, early diagnosis, and contribution to better outcomes in healthcare systems across the world. Most healthcare organizations have already embarked on digital transformation and are now looking at speed of implementation, along with providing evidence of tangible outcomes, to inspire budget holders and maintain momentum in their digital transformation journeys. Although clinical benefits from digital transformation tend to be the first strategic targets of most organizations, the rising prices of supplies and energy are also focusing the minds of healthcare administrators on digitalisation to reduce costs in infrastructure and operations.[1]

Efficiency and cost savings with smart hospitals

The healthcare sector is responsible for some 4–5% of global greenhouse gas emissions[2] and therefore has a vital role to play in climate change mitigation efforts, which will not only result in substantial reductions in emissions, but can often lead to enhanced patient care, staff satisfaction, and cost savings.[3]

Smart hospital buildings that offer improved patient experiences and outcomes, and at the same time deliver important cost savings and sustainability benefits, are at the forefront of the digital revolution in healthcare.

Equipping a hospital with an up-to-date building management system can make the building’s operations more intelligent and energy efficient, leading to significant energy savings. For example, wastewater recycling and reclaimed waters system can drastically reduce water consumption.

In the UK, the Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is piloting a solution that allows its hospital to create a digital twin of its building. This enables staff to access a huge amount of real-time data, such as room occupancy, the location of critical equipment, and even the status of paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms.

For healthcare systems the world over, enabling digital investments makes a disproportionately positive contribution to efficiency and effectiveness in healthcare delivery, healthcare access, and patient outcomes (short-term and long-term, reducing the social cost of rising overall demand and lifetime healthcare costs).

Financing smart hospital transformation

According to research, the necessary investment in healthcare technology – and its projected growth over the next five years – is substantial, yet it cannot generally be afforded through available capital expenditure budgets in healthcare systems.[4] There is widespread recognition of the critical role that smart buildings play in delivering the environment required for digitalised healthcare, however, estimates of the technology investment required often fail to account for the cost of adapting facilities to house that new technology.

To boost the availability of capital with which digital transformation can be achieved, the healthcare sector must therefore harness private sector finance to enable a digital, commercial, clinical, and sustainable transition. Private sector finance – usually from specialist financiers with a deep understanding of the technology and its applications – plays a crucial role in enabling the development and digitalisation of healthcare systems all around the world.

Smart finance for smart hospital buildings makes it possible to harness future energy savings and bring them forward to fund the energy efficiency installation project itself, this is known as energy efficiency as-a-service. No capital is required, and the organization achieves sustainable goals at zero net cost.

Other techniques include smart buildings as-a-service, where performance criteria are built into the operating agreement. These criteria may include energy use, buildings occupancy, asset visibility, cleaning efficiency, patient satisfaction, and more. Smart finance structures capitalise these arrangements, making them economic for suppliers and healthcare organizations alike. Hospitals and other healthcare bodies typically use these arrangements to develop or upgrade whole facilities, such as a whole medical imaging department or pathology department.

Conclusion: the urgency to act now

The need to refresh healthcare’s existing technology base goes hand in hand with the equally urgent need to transition to efficient, smart hospital buildings. However, transformation cannot be funded by the public purse alone, that’s why private sector finance is playing a critical role in enabling the digital transition.

Partnering with a smart solutions provider allows healthcare organizations to achieve radical, data- and evidence-driven change through digital transformation – improving patient outcomes, reducing both immediate and lifetime healthcare costs, and deploying scarce clinical and care skills more efficiently and effectively.

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[1] Assessing the impact of digital transformation of health services, (2019), European Commission, Luxembourg; Publications Office of the European Union. Available at: <;

[2] Tennison, I. et al. (2021) Health Care's response to climate change: A carbon footprint assessment of the NHS in England, The Lancet: Planetary Health. Available at:

[3] Ibid.

[4] Financing Health for All: Increase, transform and redirect, The Who Council on the Economics of Health for All (2021). Available at: