“If the global healthcare sector was a country, it would be the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.”
The staggering comparison from the Healthcare Climate Footprint Report highlights the urgent need for sustainable solutions and practices within healthcare, as projections indicate that emissions from the sector are likely to triple if action is not taken. In this blog, we will explore how digital health can provide more sustainable alternatives to conventional healthcare and reduce the carbon footprint of the global health sector.
Below are some of the digital solutions that can help to create a more sustainable future of health:
1. Digital Health Apps
Apps can be used to promote healthy lifestyles, support medication adherence and provide remote patient monitoring. MyTailoredTalks, our app to support recovery from Long COVID, is a self-management tool that allows patients to receive tailored support, advice and information about their condition, from the comfort of their home. Solutions like this limit the need for in-person consultations, reducing cost, saving clinician time and minimises the carbon emissions produced by the health sector.
Telemedicine allows patients to consult with healthcare professionals through digital platforms, which reduces the need for physical travel and saves time and resources. This reduces carbon emissions associated with transportation, and also enables remote consultations and care.
3. Electronic Medical Records
EMRs enable healthcare providers to store and share patient data electronically, which reduces paper waste and lowers the environmental impact associated with printing and storing paper records. EMRs also have the potential to make the provision of care more efficient, as patient information can be easily stored and shared across different health systems.
4. Wearable technology
Wearables such as fitness trackers and smartwatches can be used to monitor vital signs, track physical activity and collect other health data. This technology can help patients and healthcare professionals to monitor and manage chronic conditions, prevent illnesses and track recovery. This can also reduce the need for unnecessary in-person visits and tests, and contribute to sustainable healthcare practices.
5. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing allows for the storage and sharing of large amounts of data without the need for on-site servers, reducing the need for physical storage space and energy usage. It also enables more efficient data sharing and collaboration between healthcare providers, improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.
These are just a few of the ways that the healthcare industry can improve its sustainability practices. While there is still progress to be made, it is encouraging to see that traditional healthcare structures and methods are adapting to become more environmentally conscious. This cultural shift towards sustainable healthcare is gaining global visibility, which is a positive sign of progress.