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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 Sustainability - Patient AND Planet Friendly?

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

Leading remote care providers minimize 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.

Sometimes, this balance means more economical options like single-use devices and technologies are chosen by providers engaging in virtual care . This is simply because it is logically cheaper in the short-term, and is a seemingly less complex model to deploy at high volumes.

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

Single-User Devices vs. Reusable Devices

Single-User devices are technologies that are sent to a patient and are not recovered at the end of their program. This means the technology stays with the patient, even after their program and device usage has stopped. Depending on the device, patients will keep them for home use, 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. This minimizes the many footprints associated with device production and electronic waste management. Additionally, removing the need for patients to dispose devices themselves ensures proper, sustainable disposal methods can be followed at scale. With fewer devices becoming waste, another range of processes and footprints is also reduced, improving digital health sustainability. 

Single-User vs Reusable Devices

ROI for Providers and the Planet

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

Recovering and reusing devices allows providers to experience ROI that benefits both their bottom line and their organization’s carbon footprint.

Demand for Green Health Grows

Beyond the ROI that continuous-use models offer, consumer behavior trends also point to the importance of integrating sustainable processes within remote care delivery.

The demand for increasingly 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 may seem more complex than their single-user counterparts. The quality management and logistics expertise needed to successfully implement this format of care delivery is complex. 

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

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

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