Kaiser Permanente announces its plans to become carbon neutral by 2020
One of America’s largest nonprofit healthcare organisation’s, Kaiser Permanente, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2020 in a new power purchase agreement, becoming the largest user of renewable energy in the US healthcare industry, utilising over a million MWh of green power each year.
A Commonwealth Fund report has highlighted that the US healthcare sector emitted 655mn metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2011, making up 10% of generated in the country that year. Such growing figures could also be linked to nearly 200,000 premature deaths as a result of air pollution.
A sponsor of the Global Climate Action Summit, Kaiser’s agreement with NextEra Energy encompasses 180MW of clean energy – enough to generate power to up to 30 of 39 hospitals under the company’s umbrella through wind, solar and battery storage, forming part of a comprehensive portfolio of renewable energy solutions and greenhouse gas reduction strategies that support its clean energy focus.
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“One of the most effective ways to protect the health of the more than 68mn people in the communities we serve is by ensuring healthy environmental conditions. By investing in renewable energy and becoming carbon neutral, Kaiser Permanente is helping to prevent climate-related illness for people worldwide,” stated Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson.
In its bid to reduce harmful emissions as part of its longstanding carbon neutral goal, Kaiser has reached a 29% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions since 2008, increased its membership numbers by 36% and reduced water usage by 12%.
Additionally, the business launched California’s first LEED Platinum hospital, the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center last year, hosted the city’s first hospital-based renewable microgrid at the Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center, issued $1bn in Green Bonds to fund LEED Platinum and Gold building projects and successfully joined RE100, California Healthcare Climate Alliance, Ceres Connect the Drops and other climate leadership initiatives.
NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency
Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government.
In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position."
Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans.
The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out.
Kevin Curran, senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server.
"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it.
"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released."
The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency. Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country.
"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives."