Results from the Data Management Healthcheck 2010 – a global survey into the healthcare industry’s ongoing strategies for managing their IT systems – found that only 25 per cent of healthcare organisations had a specific CO2 target to reduce their carbon emissions. 29 per cent of respondents were unaware of a CO2 target, if it did exist.
The survey also asked respondents (healthcare IT professionals from all over the world, but primarily from the United States and United Kingdom) what they were doing to reduce their organisations’ IT carbon footprints specifically. Only 16 per cent of respondents said they monitored energy consumption across their IT infrastructures on an ongoing basis against pre-set targets. Less than three per cent claimed to use a carbon-offset scheme.
“Prior to the recession, ’green IT’ was definitely en vogue. Yet the survey results suggest a shift in priorities, namely that green IT is not a primary focus for healthcare IT professionals at the moment,” said John McCann, Director of Marketing at BridgeHead Software. “Although reducing the carbon footprint from their IT infrastructures may not be not a specific objective, any green benefits certainly seem a welcome by-product of other cost-saving activities, such as, for example, Healthcare Storage Virtualization [HSV].”
McCann added, “Although HSV is best known for its technological benefits (simplifying data migration, enhancing content access, maximising storage resource utilisation, etcetera), it also offers some green merit as a secondary benefit by helping to alleviate the burden of healthcare data being kept ‘powered-on’ on the primary store. In our survey, nearly 40 per cent of respondents said they were employing server and/or storage virtualization to minimise the number of physical servers in use and maximise the efficiency of their existing storage assets which, in turn, delays the need for hardware upgrades. This mindset is certainly a step in the right direction and many healthcare organisations are starting to adopt this approach. Our experience at BridgeHead Software suggests the majority of healthcare data is rarely accessed and, therefore, many healthcare organisations are spending a lot of time, effort and money attempting to keep unnecessary data online which requires not only the storage hardware itself (and associated infrastructure, e.g. air conditioning units), but also vast power consumption. Longer term, we hope to see a more pragmatic approach to managing data that will contribute to a reduced carbon footprint.”
Despite the survey results, carbon reduction is considered to be a hot-button issue for healthcare institutions all over the world. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service’s (NHS’s) Carbon Reduction Strategy for England (CRS) mandates that the NHS must reduce its existing carbon footprint by 80 per cent by 2050 to meet government CO2 targets. To stay on-track for this target, the NHS must reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent by 2015 (based on a 2007 baseline).
The Data Management Healthcheck 2010, concluded in early April, gauged the industry’s readiness for (and responses to) the explosive growth of information technologies and data they produce. Survey results on the healthcare industry’s approaches to the exponentially increasing volumes of clinical data will be announced in coming weeks.