An analysis by Kaiser Permanente published in the May issue of Health Affairs. It also estimates that electronic health records lower carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 1.7 million tons. That’s only across the entire U.S. population.
Do you realize how big the Kaiser Permanente system is? It serves more than 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia.
So Kaiser Permanente also operates the world’s largest private electronic health record company. They call it more noteworthy Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®. Their analysis found consequently that comprehensive use of health IT by Kaiser Permanente:
1. Avoided the use of 1,044 tons of paper for medical charts annually
2. Eliminated up to 92,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions by replacing face-to-face patient visits (and the associated travel) with virtual visits
3. Avoided 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions by filling prescriptions online
4. Reduced the use of toxic chemicals, such as silver nitrate and hydroquinone. That’s by 33.3 tons. All by digitizing and archiving X-ray images and other scans.
5. Resulted in a positive net effect on the environment despite increased energy use. Also additional waste from the use of personal computers.
Health care-related activities account for 8 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gases and 7 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions. Let’s also not forget hospitals use a ton of water!!
However we probably will hear more in the future because Kaiser Permanente is an innovator in environmental stewardship. We are talking “groundbreaking” energy conservation, sustainable design and construction practices.