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Research on Portuguese telemedicine found 95% drop in patient kilometers travelled and associated greenhouse gas emissions

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While there’s occasionally talk of the potential impact of telemedicine on greenhouse gas emissions, there’s only been limited research.

We looked at the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions for almost 21,000 telemedicine consultations performed during 2004-11 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 - and a total of 455 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (22 kg per patient).

How we include such reductions in greenhouse gas emission needs to be considered when assessing the cost-benefits of remote care.

Research conducted by: Tiago Cravo Oliveira, James Barlow, Luis Gonçalves, Steffen Bayer (Imperial College London and Administração Regional de Saúde do Alentejo)

Paper available at:

http://hsr.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/08/08/1355819613492717.full.pdf+html

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