Here is no doubt that the ongoing COVID19 pandemic has had an impact on our way of life. Doctor and medical appointments are among the typical routines that have been disrupted and gave way to telemedicine. According to Colleen McCormick, the director of sustainability at UC Davis, the popularity and use of telemedicine have grown up to 3000% since the pandemic hit, which has suggested it might be the best way to handle climate change. Let’s try and dissect Miss McCormick’s statement and see how it might help climate change.
For starters, the number of patients’ visits to hospitals in 2019 was 122 million. This number includes both light and life-threatening health conditions. It also takes into account the dentist appointments. 2019 registered the highest number of hospital visits in the 2010s decade.
Due to social distancing and ‘stay at home’ initiatives to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the number of hospital visits has significantly dropped by 32%. The figure has remained constant for the non-COVID hospital admissions.
The reduced number of hospital visits and the inclusion of telemedicine has eliminated a need to drive to and from the hospital, according to Peter Yellowless of UC Davis, which has contributed to a 10% reduction in carbon emission. That’s a lot of carbon emission reduction, where the US healthcare systems are among the most pollutant sectors worldwide.
Given the advancements made in the technology sectors and the willingness of the healthcare sectors to adopt these technologies, it has resulted in telemedicine aiding in the following ways:
- Non-physical follow-up appointments
- basic consultations
- improving comfort and convenience of patients and doctors through virtual visits
- helped to keep people safe in their homes, hence curbing the spread of COVID19
Other than reducing carbon emission through reduced driving, patients can save money, with millions of dollars that would have been spent on fuel since the pandemic started being saved or included in other expenditures.
The only hope is for healthcare facilities and patients to keep using telemedicine post-pandemic to keep the current changes permanent and improve.