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Electronic Health Records Could Cut Carbon Emissions by 1.7 Million Tons

05/05/2011

 


The health care industry is responsible for up to eight percent of our country’s annual CO2 emissions, but a full transition from paper to electronic medical records could take the industry from major emitter to minor emitter.  A new study by Kaiser Permanente found that if electronic health records were implemented across the entire U.S. population, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 1.7 million tons.

Kaiser Permanente, along with the rest of the top five medical groups, have created a patient information exchange that uses only electronic medical records, but across the country, adoption of the technology has been low.  On Kaiser’s part, digitizing their records has saved the company 1,044 tons of paper and reduced toxic chemicals from X-ray machine scans by 33.3 tons.  The implementation of virtual doctor-patient visits has saved 92,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

To help spur more physicians, practices and medical groups to make the switch, the federal government is offering $44,000 in incentives per physician for adopting electronic records.  Widespread adoption of better health IT systems could save the U.S. healthcare system $81 billion a year.

via Earth 911

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