EMR – Business of Saving Trees

Let me start off by saying that, I am a huge proponent of green technology, be it Eco-friendly containers, hybrid vehicles, recyclable paper products, etc. We have denied our next generations enough resources, as it is. We are at the precipice of completely exhausting our natural resources and thus it is our responsibility being on top of the food chain, to help restore and preserve the planet’s resources while protecting those that we share this planet with.

The age of automation came beckoning for more efficient and effective ways of recording and processing information, but for most it was just another method to increase productivity and decrease cost.

Reduced paper consumption and deforestation was seldom acknowledged, although this is one of the biggest advantages of automation.

For the healthcare industry, EMR was the ultimate breakthrough to eliminate tons of paper flowing through the healthcare communities. Rapid innovation and tougher competition among vendors helped give birth to cloud based EMR. This architecture allows for remote backups and storage, eliminating the need for the filing and storage of paper based medical records. With reduced hassle of retrieving and filing records, the user can access relevant information from anywhere, within seconds. The cost of maintaining a dedicated file room and relevant staff is eradicated, saving up to $3 per record. EMR also eliminates the need for duplication as users can access information simultaneously resulting in further benefits in the form of better cohesion and collaboration along with significantly reduced paper wastage.

There are over 800 thousand medical practitioners serving over 300 million people in the US today. Let’s assume that every individual utilizes 100 A4 size paper sheets for diagnosis, prescriptions, test results, etc during their lifetime. If one A4 size sheet weighs roughly around 4 to 4.5 grams, the total consumption would equate to 127.5 million kilograms or 140544.7 tons of paper (907.18 kg/ton) and according to a study by Trinity College in Western Australia, it takes 17 x 20 year old trees to produce 1 ton of paper. That’s 2.4 million trees and if for some reason this does not sway you, there are millions of gallons of water to be saved from tree pulp processing along with millions of gallons of potential fuel savings through reduced doctor visitation. Add in digital imaging and we can bid riddance to tons of toxic chemicals that are used for developing x-rays and film.

The above is just a rough estimate generated independently and although actual figures may vary, the purpose here is just to enlighten readers of the numerous benefits of adopting a technology that significantly reduces our carbon footprint whilst improving quality of healthcare. Among other things, the business of EMR is also one of saving trees.


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