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Patient AND Planet Friendly? – Digital Health Sustainability

How can providers deliver digital health solutions that are both financially and environmentally sustainable?

By Maeghan Innes, MASc Eng. PMP, Director of Product – Medioh

Digital health brings technology and patients together to enable healthcare from anywhere. While this model of care can be accessed without transportation or physical facilities, digital health still leaves an ever-growing environmental footprint.

Leading remote care providers are minimizing these impacts by partnering to create solutions that are both environmentally and financially sustainable.

The Environmental Footprint of Digital Health

While some remote care solutions are inherently more sustainable than traditional models of care, many require additional technologies and manufactured materials. These devices, tools, and assets enable continuous connectivity and oversight of critical biometric data and are necessary for millions of patients managing their care at home.

But, like any healthcare model, remote care solutions must meet a unique balance of quality, affordability, and satisfaction to properly serve patients and the many factors impacting their access to care.

This balance can sometimes mean that more economical options, such as single-use devices and consumable technologies, are chosen by providers engaging in virtual care provision. This is simply because it is logically cheaper in the short-term and is seemingly a less complex model to deploy for higher volume programs.

Although this method does reduce the up-front costs and logistics associated with reprocessing, refurbishing, and reusing devices, it is ultimately less sustainable both financially and environmentally in the long term, and when delivering remote care at transformative scale.

Single-User Devices vs. Reusable Devices

Single-User devices refer to technologies that are sent to a patient and are not recovered at the end of a patient’s program. This means that the technology stays with the patient, even after their program has ended. Depending on the device, patients will keep them for home use after program graduation and will eventually dispose of the item. In this model, this is where the RPM device life-cycle ends.

In contrast, programs with Reusable devices do recover these technologies from patients after their program has ended. These devices are then reprocessed (cleaned, refurbished, disinfected, etc.) and are put back into inventory to safely serve additional patients in a given program.

The environmental benefits of the reusable device model are obvious. Recovering and reusing devices results in fewer technologies being manufactured and disposed of, minimizing the many footprints associated with device production and electronic waste management. In addition, relieving patients of the need to dispose of devices themselves ensures that proper, sustainable disposal methods can be followed at scale. With fewer devices becoming waste, another range of processes and environmental footprints is also reduced.

Single-User vs Reusable Devices

ROI for Providers and the Planet

Reusable device models also succeed in being financially sustainable, in that they allow providers to maximize their capital investment in the medical technologies that make their programs possible.

By recovering and reusing these devices, providers can experience a return on investment that benefits both their bottom line and their organization’s carbon footprint.

Demand for Green Health Grows

Beyond the improvements in ROI experienced from continuous use models, consumer behavior trends point to the importance of integrating sustainable processes within remote care delivery.

The demand for more sustainable alternatives has impacted many industries, and remote care is no different. Consumer demand for eco-friendliness has now become expectation, and providers are well positioned to deliver care that also considers the health of the planet.

Healthy Patients, Healthy Planet

Reusable device models of remote care may seem more complex than single-user, due to the quality management and logistics expertise needed to successfully implement this format of care delivery.

However, leading providers of remote care are creating strategic partnerships with logistics and technology experts to address this issue, to ensure that the future of care we build is sustainable for us and for our planet. By leveraging the capacity of these third-party experts, leading providers are scaling ROI while reducing the footprint their care leaves behind.

Find out more about how Medioh enables seamless, sustainable remote care solutions.

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