The cost and carbon savings of telehealth, quantified

A new study from UC Davis Health has quantified the benefits of telehealth in terms of patients' cost savings and healthcare's carbon footprint. 

Researchers looked at data from the health systems at UC Davis, UC San Francisco, UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine and UC San Diego to perform their calculations, according to a Jan. 10 news release. Across the University of California health systems, 18 percent of visits between January 2020 and December 2021 were conducted virtually. 

The researchers found that each patient saved an average of 17.6 travel miles, 35 minutes and $11 in travel costs by choosing telehealth over in-person visits. 

Fewer vehicle trips to an in-person care site meant lower carbon emissions, too. Over two years, 21,466 metric tons of CO2 were saved because of telehealth — the equivalent of a year's worth of emissions from 4,177 U.S. homes, the news release said.

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