Going Green With Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Last week, Kaiser Permanente published a report finding that health information technology can significantly help the environment. One astonishing finding showed the transition to electronic health records (EHR) could lower carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 1.7 million tons across the entire U.S. population. (The pollution equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the roads here in America)

We believe that less than 20% of America's physicians use EHR systems today. When properly implemented, there are huge benefits of EMR and EHR systems. However, many opportunities exist currently including reducing patient trips to a doctor's office. “What stands out is the opportunity to reduce automobile trips,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser’s environmental stewardship officer.

Kaiser is a great example for how to manage a company's data center in an energy-efficient way using EHR. The numbers are staggering, and show that beyond organizational efficiency, there are environmental benefits to our planet as well.

Here are some statistics about how EHR systems can contribute to environmental health from switching 8.7 million members over to electronic health records:

  • Eliminating 1,000 tons of paper records
  • Eliminating 68 tons of x-ray film by switching to digital x-rays
  • Eliminating about 38 tons of toxic chemical used to process film x-rays
  • 71.5 million gallons of water saved per year
  • Saving 3 million gallons of gasoline per year from avoided medical visits

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