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Electronic Medical Records Could Save U.S. Government $81 Bln/Year and Millions of Tons of CO2 Emissions

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It’s a no-brainer that by eliminating paper usage, humanity would considerably reduce carbon dioxide emissions and will slow down deforestation. The health industry is one of the largest CO2 emitters in the U.S. just by the fact that it uses paper to keep medical records.

A recent study has revealed that as much as 8 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse emissions could be avoided by transitioning to electronically-stored records.

The study has been performed by Kaiser Permanente, one of the country’s leading health care organizations. By using digital records, KP saved around 1,444 tons of paper for medical charts, which means even less than the equivalent weight of uncut wood.

X-ray machines are also harmful in the photocopying process, as they work with toxic chemicals containing lead, which causes a large number of diseases. Their negative effect can too be diminished by using electronic records. Face-to-face patient visits also saved up to 92,000 tons of CO2 emissions (probably from the inherent use of gas-powered transportation).

Even the federal government encourages the use of electronic records by offering a $44,000 incentive to each physician for implementing the system. Their outcome would be the saving of $81 billion per year. KP’s study has been published in the May issue of Health Affairs.

[via ecogeek]

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