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Virtual visits reduce patient costs and help the environment

London, Ontario. – Virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic reduces carbon footprint and patient travel-related costs such as gasoline, parking, and public transport, according to a new study by researchers from ICES, Lawson Institute for Health Research, and Western University. has been significantly reduced. cost.

Before the pandemic, less than 2% of patient visits with doctors were done online. With the beginning of the pandemic (April-June 2020), a rapid shift to virtual visits began, which jumped from 70% to 80%, and then in his 50% to 60% of all doctor visits. stabilized.

This cross-sectional study, published on JAMA Network Open, used health care data from Ontario to identify all patients who had at least one virtual visit between March 2020 and December 2021. did.

“Virtual care has become an important part of Ontario’s healthcare system. Not only is it more convenient for patients, but it also offers significant environmental and economic benefits for patients.” Western’s Schulich School Urologist of Medicine & Dentistry, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, Associate Scientist at Lawson, Adjunct Scientist at ICES Western.

“The economic and environmental benefits of virtual care are likely to continue post-pandemic, and are particularly important for some patients who frequently received virtual care.”

Findings showed that for over 10 million patients who had at least one appointment during the study period (63 million total visits), virtual care was associated with estimated savings of:

  • Patients have traveled 3.2 billion kilometers.
  • 545-658 million kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.When
  • $569 million to $733 million (Canadian) in gas, parking, or public transportation costs.

Avoiding carbon dioxide emissions during the pandemic through virtual visits represents approximately 0.2% of the total annual carbon emissions (150 megatons) from Ontario.

Virtual care visits were more frequent among those over 65, those with multiple health conditions, and those living in urban areas. Because of the long travel distances, virtual care may offer more potential environmental benefits and save patient costs for rural residents. Other factors, such as less time off work (given that some virtual visits can be done during the day with little interruption to work), may prove to be less of a problem for some working adults and parents of young children. It may have provided additional benefits.

Alexandra Zorzi, Ph.D., Pediatric Oncologist and Associate Scientist, Health Sciences Center Children’s Hospital, London, said: at Lawson. “Our findings suggest that physicians, where appropriate, should continue to offer virtual appointments, especially for patients who live in remote areas or who have barriers to accessing in-person care. increase.”

The study “Linking Environmental Sustainability and Expansion of Virtual Care with Reduced Patient Costs During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ontario, Canada” was published in JAMA Network Open.

Virtual visits reduce patient costs and help the environment

Source link Virtual visits reduce patient costs and help the environment

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