A year ago last February my life almost came to an end. My wife and I were driving down a country lane when out of the corner of my right eye, I saw a flash of green. At that exact moment my wife uttered "Oh my God". I saw her cover her head and then BAM; my windshield literally exploded, the glass blew out of the sunroof and the car's roof came crushing down on our heads.
Stunned, covered by glass, and suffering a few minor cuts we were able to exit the car to see what had happened. A 60 foot Douglas Fir on the side of the road that had been loosened by a wind storm earlier in the day decided to fall just as we were driving by. It hit squarely across the top of the car just in front of the sunroof. Worse yet, a 3-inch diameter branch, broken and pointed like a spear, had come straight down through the roof stopping just inches from the car's center console. A little bit to the right or left and it might have easily punctured my head or chest or that of my wife. Needless to say, we now have a healthy respect for the power of trees (and well- built cars). Maybe that's why I feel so compelled to share this other story about trees.
Did you ever think how many trees are mowed down each year to supply paper for the healthcare industry? Doctors at George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, D.C. estimate that converting to a fully electronic medical record system (from Microsoft partner Allscripts) is saving about 2000 pieces of paper per physician per year. Assuming that figure is correct (and it seems really low to me) and assuming 700,000 or so physicians practicing in the US; converting 100 percent of docs to electronic records could save 1.4 billion pieces of paper each year. According to HowStuffWorks.com an average tree yields about 80,000 sheets of paper. Therefore, if every doctor in America was fully electronic, according to the figures provided, we could save about 17,500 trees a year! And that's just from American doctors who go electronic. Imagine if the entire industry went that way! There's a cool web video on this topic if you'd like to learn more.
Whether or not my tree-saving estimates are anywhere near accurate, I think you get the point. At a time when "getting green" is absolutely the right thing to do for the planet, perhaps there's another benefit besides improved care quality and patient safety for converting to electronic records--saving trees and saving the planet. And before you even go there, yes I realize that such a conversion would mean increased use of electricity, plastics, heavy metals, and other factors that make the environmental impact and green ROI a little fuzzier. But if you share my healthy respect for trees, then you must agree that saving them is a good thing to do.
Next week I'll be making two trips to the "other Washington", Washington, D.C.; first for the Consumer Health World Conference and later for the World Healthcare Innovation and Technology Congress and a special meeting at the National Cancer Institute. In between those trips, I'll be visiting with customers and providing a keynote address at our Microsoft Healthcare Executive Forum event in Sonoma, California. I'll be sure to provide a few updates while on the road.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation
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EMR = Save a Tree. After reading about the encounter of the big green type, I would have more than respect
Respect for their unseen power and perhaps a healty dose of fear, especially on windy days.
Bill Crounse, MD
thats sound very similar to my accident
sorry about this hope all is well smiley's
So, you are saying that Microsoft Healthcare Solutions Group (HSG) is now in the business of saving trees? What will our buddies from Allscripts have to say about it? Let's the competition begin - who will save more trees next year, Microsoft or Allscripts?
Saving trees is a noble goal, but doesn't an EMR consume electricity for computers? So in the USA, that probably means burning coal, releasing hydrocarbons...
How about we install handcranks on all EMR PC's, just like the OLPC (http://laptop.org/)?
Thanks for your comments everyone.
Guest, I fully acknowledged in the piece that the environmntal impact ROI was a litte more complicated than just saving trees. But I'm glad we agree that saving trees is a nobel goal.
HealthBlog by Bill Crounse, MD, a new (at least to me) health care IT blog to follow. Dr. Crounse is the Worldwide Health Director for Microsoft.
I agree going green is great. I do believe in EMR even though it requires a computer. In today's day and age, an EMR that is up to date with their CCHIT certification is one to go with. The information out there of cost needs to change. A CCHIT certified EMR company can actually show you how to save money, increase patient flow and decrease law suits, etc. I do not believe in growing your own EMR, what happens to the patient who's information is stolen? You are not protected.