How Can Healthcare Services Become More Sustainable?
The healthcare industry plays a vital role in the wider communities that it serves. Over the years, it has been a key adopter of the latest advances in technology that help to ensure improved standards of care and patient outcomes.
Treatments such as laser corrective eye surgery and the use of MRI scanners in patient assessments are now commonplace in global healthcare services and, respectively, help to improve the quality of life of patients whilst ensuring that accurate medical assessments can take place.
However, as with other sectors of the wider economy, healthcare services need to look for unique ways to adopt more sustainable practices to limit any adverse effects on the environment and play a greater role in the fight against climate change. In this article, three specific ways in which healthcare services can become more sustainable will be explored.
Increasing adoption of remote consultations
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions were placed on the movement of citizens and regional or national lockdowns were put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Whilst this was designed to protect vital healthcare facilities from becoming overloaded with patients, it also created challenges for the assessment of patients in the community.
Thankfully, the move to remote healthcare consultations took place with video conferencing software and patient monitoring telehealth devices being used to ensure a continued high standard of patient assessment. Telehealth services offer a key sustainability benefit for the healthcare sector.
A greater number of patients can receive consultations and assessments using this method and both the patients and healthcare professionals no longer need to travel to a shared physical location to meet. When adopted across primary and secondary healthcare services, this can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of organizations and the public by reducing the reliance on car journeys and public transport to reach a healthcare center.
Improved healthcare benefits from employers
Many leading employers are now offering their staff comprehensive healthcare benefits packages as part of their terms of employment. First Line benefits and other healthcare benefits packages provide staff with a diverse range of healthcare solutions. These can include access to dental, vision and medical services, along with the potential for remote consultations on certain health matters.
Many of these benefits packages involve the use of local or remotely accessed services. Without such comprehensive services in one healthcare solution, the individual would need to seek specialist healthcare services themselves and this may require the need to travel regionally or even nationally to find suitable providers. Again, this can help patients and service providers to reduce their carbon footprints or benefit from remote healthcare advice and assessments.
In the last decade, advances in electric–powered vehicles have reached the level where they can now be considered for use in the healthcare sector. The range and reliability of electric motors and battery storage is such that many ambulance services are now considering using electric vehicles to respond to emergencies.
When you consider that an ambulance will cover hundreds of thousands of miles during their useful lives, this change can make a significant reduction to the amount of CO2 emissions that are produced when attending emergency calls.If all emergency fleet vehicles are replaced with electric versions, the emergency prehospital care sector will be able to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint.