Will Renewable Energy Transform Health Care?
The healthcare industry is no stranger to innovation. Hospitals frequently embrace cutting-edge technology to improve patient care and become more accessible. But all of these devices come at a cost. The medical industry consumes a lot of power, meaning health care could benefit greatly from renewable energy.
Renewables can benefit any industry, but their impact on the medical sector could be transformative. The efficiency and flexibility of renewable energy could make healthcare more affordable and accessible on top of the usual sustainability improvements.
Here’s a closer look at how that could happen.
Health Care’s Sustainability Problem
The most obvious benefit of renewable energy is sustainability, and health care has room to improve. The sector accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., thanks to its massive energy needs. Emissions aren’t the industry’s only environmental stumbling point, either.
Medical organizations generate a considerable amount of waste. A single hysterectomy can produce as much as 20 pounds of waste, including packaging, plastics, and other one-time-use items. The industry is in dire need of a sustainability boost, and renewables can provide a helpful first step.
Renewable energy won’t lessen the waste problem, but it will help mitigate its impact. Reducing the sector’s emissions still represents a considerable improvement in sustainability. These technologies can do more than just make the industry more eco-friendly, too.
Renewable Energy Could Decrease Medical Costs
With renewables, hospitals would generate much of their own energy instead of buying it from a utility company. Considering how much power the sector consumes, even a marginal reduction in energy bills would represent substantial savings. Renewables could decrease more expenses than just utilities, too.
Renewable technologies like solar windows can generate green power while providing more natural light. Studies show that patients exposed to natural light take 22% less pain medication per hour, as it improves comfort and reduces stress. When patients require less medication, they’ll keep their bills lower.
Health care is a notoriously expensive industry, so much so that costs can stop people from seeking the care they need. By reducing costs through renewables, hospitals could make treatment more affordable. Patients won’t have to worry about astronomical bills and may seek care more frequently.
Renewables Make Healthcare More Accessible
Another advantage of renewables is that they can provide power virtually anywhere. Solar panels and turbines don't require a connection to an electrical grid, making energy more flexible. This flexibility could help medical organizations provide care in remote areas away from reliable electrical infrastructure.
An estimated one in four health centers in Sub-Saharan Africa lack electrical access, and three in four don’t have reliable power. Renewables can provide backup energy for those without a reliable grid and power off-grid sites. Doctors in these areas could then ensure they’re able to offer patients the care they need.
Renewable energy would enable patients in remote areas to benefit from cutting-edge, potentially life-saving medical technologies. Global health care would become far more accessible, reducing the need for emergency travel and even, potentially, preventing death.
Renewables would also help transport sensitive medical supplies safely. Vaccines often require low storage temperatures, which can be challenging to maintain over a long journey. Solar panels could ensure refrigeration units don’t lose power, keeping them safe as companies deliver them.
The Healthcare Industry Is Ripe for Change
The world will always need the healthcare industry, so disruption in the sector is a must. Every advancement can translate into saved lives. If more medical organizations embraced renewable energy, the industry would become more sustainable, affordable, accessible, and responsive.
As crucial as the medical industry is, it remains prohibitively expensive and often inaccessible. Renewables could help address that problem and allow more people to get the care they need. Renewable energy can benefit any industry, but it could transform health care entirely.
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