Environmental e-Health

figure1Although poorly recognised, each and every e-health application has environmental impact, and thereby contributes to worsening, or potentially mitigating, climate change, water use, and contamination of our environment. Impacts begin with resource depletion, manufacture, and distribution (upstream), continue during the use and maintenance period (midstream), and are compounded by poor e-waste management at the end of life (downstream). Environmental cost must be considered as an integral part of the total ‘cost’ of an e-health solution: What costs are associated with recycling/redeploying technology vs. refusing (landfill disposal); and what are the environmental costs or consequences of disposing of technology/equipment in ever increasing quantities as we ‘evergreen’ our technology?

Application of e-Health is growing rapidly and globally. As it does so, it must be implemented in an environmentally responsible manner, thereby aligning with MDG Goal 7 (i.e., Ensure Environmental Sustainability). But few people, organisations, or countries are even aware of ‘Environmental e-Health’ impact – and their own contributions. Working in healthcare, we have a duty to be informed and a responsibility to do no harm; yet we remain uninformed and contribute to harming those we are committed to help by poorly considered use of e-health. Pioneered by an NTC consultant, we raise awareness of, perform research into, and teach about Environmental e-Health. Our intent is NOT to stifle development, e-health innovation, or technology use, but rather to allow us to continue to reap the benefits of e-health innovation whilst understanding, minimising, and managing environmental impact. We can help you understand and minimise the environmental impact of your e-health activities as you struggle with the dichotomy of staying current whilst not wasting past investment.