Telemedicine’s greenhouse gas emissions

There’s occasionally speculation about the environmental impact of remote care but not much detailed research. A team from Imperial College London have evaluated  the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from 21,000 telemedicine consultations performed over a seven year period in Alentejo, Portugal. The results were dramatic. Telemedicine may have led to a 95% reduction in distances travelled – or 2.3 million kms of travelling by patients – saving a total of 455 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. How we factor such environmental impacts into cost-benefit assessments of remote care remains to be seen. The research was conducted by Tiago Cravo Oliveira, Steffen Bayer and James Barlow, with support from Luis Gonçalves from the Administração Regional de Saúde do Alentejo.

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