Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Green Future of Electronic Medical Records

Doctors who have converted their patient health records into electronic medical record (EMR) format could be unknowingly saving the life of both their patients as well as Mother Nature.  A study showed that the use of EMRs will be more beneficial to the environment than paper records.  It goes beyond paper though, using EMRs could actually reduce the amount of greenhouse gas and toxic chemical waste.

Oakland, CA based health plan and medical group, Kaiser Permanente, conducted a study revealing that using EMRs could have a positive impact on the health of the planet.  The obvious way the old method of keeping patient health records is damaging the environment is with paper consumption.  Did you know that creating paper medical charts uses up 1,044 tons of paper per year?  With an EMR system, the need for consumption is greatly reduced - as well as records, practices can have patients can fill out forms online and send them bills electronically.

The study also showed that EMR use reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and that the healthcare industry contributes 8 percent of all greenhouse gases in the U.S. through refrigeration and deforestation.  Viewing patient health records electronically can also cut back on negative environmental impact.  X-Rays actually create lots of toxic waste.  Digitally printing them would cut back on the disposal of silver nitrate and hydroquinone used to make the X-Ray film.  Along with reducing paper use, the biggest beneficial environmental impact using EMRs would have is cutting down carbon emissions - 99,000 tons total, according to Kaiser Permanente.  With EMRs and patient portals, patients can make less car trips in to the doctor's office.  An electronic network accessible from home would eliminate the need to drive to the office to fill out paperwork and get prescriptions filled.  Patients can communicate with their doctors over patient portals through chat, email or video, which can even eliminate the need to see the doctor in person for a consultation.  This would be like taking 300,000 cars off the road.  Now, if saving the environment is not a good incentive to implement EMR systems, then I don't know what is.

Your practice can save the planet too by contacting the expert EMR consultants at today.

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