Telehealth Cuts Health Care’s Carbon Footprint and Patient’s Costs

UC Davis and four other University of California health care systems and doctors used telehealth to serve their patients and tracked this data over the first two years of the pandemic. The video visits that took place saved substantial time, carbon emissions, and transportation costs. These savings included eliminating the need to commute 53,664,391 miles – that’s 113 round trips from Earth to the moon. Telehealth also saved an estimated 204 years of travel time, $33,540,244 travel-related costs, and 42.4 injuries. Researchers also estimated these visits reduced greenhouse gas emissions due to fewer vehicle trips. They found the CO2 emission savings alone were close to 21,466 metric tons over the two years. This is equivalent to a year’s worth of CO2 emissions from the electricity use of 4,177 U.S. homes. Overall, the carbon footprint of telehealth visits was 6-10 times lower than in-person visits. The potential of telehealth providing both economic and environmental benefits is proving to be an important part of the healthcare system, even after the pandemic. View full research article here.

“Being one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the health care industry should be taking serious steps to decrease its carbon footprint and telehealth is one of them” –  Sristi Sharma M.D., M.P.H.