According to Practice Greenhealth, a health association and organization focused on encouraging sustainable and ethical healthcare practices, the health care sector creates a staggering 25.1 pounds of waste per staffed bed every day. This includes everything from bio hazardous to recyclable waste. SignEasy also writes that of the 6600 tons of waste per day generated by the healthcare industry in the U.S. alone, the majority is comprised of landfill waste such as cardboard boxes and other paper. Luckily, technology usage can help cut down on many of these costs, especially those related to paperwork.
It’s becoming more urgent for hospitals and medical facilities to address this wastage – ensuring more economical, sustainable, and environmentally sound systems of resource management in their facilities. Here are a few eco-friendly healthcare tools that professionals can utilize to cut down on paper related costs and wastages, while also streamlining work processes to provide more efficient care.
Online Appointment Scheduling
Centers such as Kings College Hospital in the U.K. are known for implementing strict changes to their systems over the last several years to ensure a paperless healthcare environment. Hospital staff now uses handheld computers to both manage patient profiles and book needed appointments. The system even sends SMS reminders to patients, making it easier for patients to call and cancel. Other facilities, like Centra Care Florida in the U.S., provide online reservation services for all 30 of their local urgent care facilities. These types of booking practices save time, money, and natural resources.
Based on an industry average of about two minutes per call, online reservations can also save three and a half hours for every 100 appointments booked. Yearly, that can add up to weeks of time savings to both employees and budgets. Additionally, just one reminder letter sent out to former patients to get an annual vaccination can cost as much as $3.50 each, especially when you factor in staff time to print, fold, envelope, and stamp each letter.
When you consider that the average facility may send out hundreds or even thousands of such reminders a year, the savings of going paperless can add up quickly. Plus, each ream of paper (500 sheets) uses up six percent of a tree! When healthcare goes green it significantly reduces the amount of trees harvested to support these day-to-day operations.
Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)
While EMRs can have a huge impact on quality of care, reduce long term costs, and save natural resources from depletion, only about 20-25% of U.S. hospitals have adopted this method. Easy to use cloud-based health record storage systems like CareCloud and Practice Fusion are some solutions. Other apps like SAP Clinical Task Tracker and Evernote allow physicians to store patient details digitally – making it simpler and easier to retrieve any patient’s records instantly.
Until recently, many healthcare facilities have been reluctant to make changes towards a paperless process. This is mostly due to perceived challenges of the transition process. However, as the desire to think and act with the next generation in mind grows, many healthcare professionals and administrators are switching gears. In the long run, the tests and trials involved in making this shift are a small price to pay for the long-term benefits of completely paperless systems.