With more than 6,000 hospitals in the U.S., environmental sustainability needs to be a serious consideration as this industry plays a key role with significant impacts. The healthcare industry produces 8.5 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions according to a recent study from Yale Insights. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across the world deployed work-from-home programs that drove significant environmental benefits. Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. saw a 12-percent drop in carbon emissions and globally there has been a seven-percent drop in emissions.
While the pandemic drove countless challenges, there were some positive outcomes to the changes it forced upon us. A change toward remote work across several industries – including healthcare – made possible using technology has helped to enable environmentally sustainable best practices in three primary ways.
1. Decreasing supply chain and paper waste
With the average 1,500 bed hospital printing 96 million pages of paper each year and 50 percent of total waste being paper-based, technology platforms provide obvious solutions to reducing paper consumption. In the past year, Vyne Medical’s Trace® solution enabled our hospital and health system clients to digitally fax their documents, saving more than 90 million pages of paper. Paper waste reduction also helps to streamline the medical supply chain, which accounts for 70 percent of healthcare’s carbon footprint.
Recycling is another effective way to reduce waste, but often only two-thirds of paper products are recycled. With the average office worker generating about two pounds of waste every day, the solution may be to rely more on technology than on people. Paperless technologies like our cloud-based faxing software enables hospital teams to electronically exchange documents rather than print these records.
2. Lowering the amount of energy used to power facilities
The burning of fossil fuels is an involuntary result of running hospitals. If healthcare were a country, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet. Alternative forms of energy like solar can power 40 percent of a hospital’s overall electricity and produce 2.4 million kilowatt hours of energy annually. Sizeable healthcare organizations are always going to require large amounts of energy in order to run their facilities. Moving a percentage of employees to remote offices reduces the office space required for healthcare operations thereby reducing hospital energy consumption.
With lighting making up approx. 16 percent of all energy use in hospitals, providers can also begin to cut back by training their staff to enact more energy-efficient habits such as turning off lights and devices in unoccupied rooms. Improving policies and best practices while exploring alternative energy sources are important considerations that can make sizeable impacts.
3. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by working from home
Hospitals can also reduce greenhouse emissions by lowering their carbon footprint. Allowing employees to work from home helps eliminate travel to and from work. Transportation makes up 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and one-fifth of total pollution in the U.S.
While the production of electric cars is rapidly increasing, most vehicles on the road are not electric. With the average car producing 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, moving to a remote workforce can notably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as seen in the last year. With the average commuter wasting 54 hours a year sitting in traffic, working from home is a great initiative to improve environmental sustainability while enhancing employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.
With carbon emissions rising, environmental sustainability should be a top priority for healthcare organizations. By starting now, the industry will be in a better position to help curb some of the negative impact already inflicted on our planet.
Vyne Medical is taking bold, corporate-wide steps to drive industry and global sustainability
By digitizing the capture, storage and submission of patient data, Vyne’s technology saves an estimated 170+ million sheets of paper each year. Vyne Medical customers save approximately 90 million pieces of paper annually using digital fax technology.
Additionally, Vyne supports healthcare work-from-home initiatives with technology that connects remote employees to the data and functionality they need. This reduces the number of employees commuting to work, helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the carbon footprint.
If you’d like to learn how Vyne Medical can help your health system’s sustainability initiatives, contact us to schedule a call with one of our healthcare technology experts today.