In October last year the NHS became the world’s first national health system to commit to becoming ‘carbon net zero’ by 2040. Sustainability should come hand in hand with care transformation, and it’s no surprise that going paper light plays a key role in delivering on this goal while also aligning with the NHS long-term strategy to take a digital first approach.
But the benefits of switching to electronic records are boundless, and Trusts taking an incremental approach can see just how transformational full-scale paper free can be. We work with NHS digital leaders to implement systems that accelerate the switch from paper-based to electronic patient records, and supporting North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust roll out electronic observations we’ve helped cut their annual carbon footprint by over four tonnes. E-obs are just one element of their paper light journey, and supported by our unified health information system the trust hopes to go completely paper-free by 2024.
But going paper-free is only a small part of much larger transformation needed to create a more sustainable NHS. The NHS response during the pandemic saw a rapid increase in delivering care in new ways, from remote consultations to delivering more care in the community. We’ve worked with NHS Trusts that are inviting patients for specialist consultations from remote communities and locations that would take many hours of travel, but with the ability to see clinical notes in the community and to deliver telehealth consultations with accurate information at clinician’s fingertips, it has been possible to slash patients’ carbon footprints while simultaneously bolstering patient safety.
But there is also a third element. As health data grows exponentially, organisations like ours have a responsibility to innovate sustainably. We take that responsibility for ourselves, and the customers we serve very seriously, and we are constantly looking for improvements. We have recently implemented a new approach to data storage that not only uses hardware that is more energy efficient and requires less cooling, but also reduces the amount of data to be stored through the use of advanced compression and de-duplication techniques. Our recent upgrades mean that we are using 78% less energy and 34% less space in our data centres, while significantly increasing performance and delivering clients with a better level of service. In turn we’re proud to be supporting the NHS in its mission to be more sustainable for future generations.
This blog was written to commemorate Earth Day 2021