Virtual care is vital to serving our communities during COVID-19, and with over 1.5 million visits and counting since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s here to stay. But these visits aren’t just a convenient way for our patients to see their providers, virtual visits also benefit the environment.
“As we celebrate Earth Day today, we recognize the significant impacts virtual visits have had on our carbon footprint across the country,” said Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski, System Vice President for Environmental Sustainability, CommonSpirit Health. “Our virtual visits reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to planting over 250,000 trees and removing more than 3,000 cars from roadways for an entire year. With virtual visits, health care is more accessible and convenient, green and sustainable.”
Overall, CommonSpirit Health Physician Enterprise doctors and Advanced Practice Providers virtual visits from March 16, 2020 through April 2, 2021 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 15,000 metric tons and saved patients an estimated $3.5 million in gas expenses. By receiving care via their computers or mobile devices, patients avoided driving for their appointments, giving them back more than 900,000 hours of their time.
Virtual care is also changing how patients and doctors interact. It increases access to care with more convenience and comfort, and is a trend that is well-established.
“The CommonSpirit Health vision for the future of virtual visits is about driving new standards of care in ways that are seamless, intuitive and patient-oriented,” said Dr. Marijka Grey, System Director for Transformation Implementation, CommonSpirit Health. “We’re hard at work to further innovate our virtual visit offerings as we accelerate our digital front door, changing how our patients engage with us and how our providers deliver care.”
Moving forward, CommonSpirit Health plans to continue to expand virtual care offerings to meet patients where and how they want to be seen. This includes on-demand and asynchronous care. We’re also piloting programs with remote patient monitoring and digital outreach for specific conditions and screenings.
Through innovations like these we hope to turn the challenges of a pandemic into a positive outcome for both our patients and the planet.