For the next two weeks, the eyes of the world will be trained on Glasgow and our World Leaders during the COP26 summit. They will be discussing how to tackle the largest global problems we facing. The UK Government has stressed that we all have a part to play and that our support and commitment to change is critical to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
So, what can you do as a small therapy business, be that a sole trader or a larger practice, to play your part in achieving a global net zero future?
It may surprise you to hear that many practitioners both in the NHS and the private sector, are still utilising paper notes and printed exercise programmes. The government set out an ambitious plan for the NHS to be paperless by 2020 but unfortunately has not achieved this target.
The behemoth that is the NHS aside, with a number of excellent tech platforms to support your therapy practice, you can easily play your part in reducing paper waste by making that switch to electronic records today! But before you discard your historic notes, this helpful CSP guide to record keeping gives you more information on how you should manage historical paper records.
A move towards electronic notes, also has the benefit of being safer for the patients as ‘technology can dramatically reduce errors’, says Tim Kelsy, the char of the National Information board. Not only this, technology enables both therapists and the public to really take advantage of game-changing opportunities to improve engagement and outcomes for patients. Rehab Guru’s recent feature update has a huge range of benefits enabling you to track outcomes, improve patient engagement, and manage and prioritise your entire caseload at the click of a few buttons.
Unilever’s sustainability slogan is ‘small actions can make a big difference’; we think this is great advice as there are many ways in which you can take small actions within your therapy business to make a difference, starting today. For instance:
Implement a company/practice ‘Green Scheme’: This can involve and encourage everyone to make the clinic and surrounding area more eco-friendly. It also has the added benefit of potentially reducing clinic costs as well as future spend. Think about ways to replace or improve any process that creates waste with one that creates less waste, such as turning off equipment and lights when they are not in use (‘TLC - turn off equipment, lights out, close doors’)
Ask your patients to bring in their own, reusable water bottle instead of using single use cups: Using a refillable bottle for a year saves a huge 64kg of CO2 compared with single use bottles! Even recyclable single use cups require energy to manufacture, deliver and recycle, so why not let your clients know that you are doing this as part of your steps to improve your environmental impact.
Sustainability in healthcare certainly has its challenges when balancing patient safety with environmental impact. But there are steps that you can take:
Ensure you have appropriate bins for your waste disposal. If sorted properly most healthcare waste doesn’t go into landfill. This is not limited to clinical waste, you can even compost food waste, coffee granules and tea bags from employees' refreshments.
Measure and reduce the amount of paper towel you are using for cleaning as well as taking a considered approach towards the types of products that you are using. Keep a close eye on the chemicals used in your products and inform your purchasing decisions.
And if you want more ideas, sign up for the Greener NHS bulletin to get involved in building a greener healthcare system in the UK.
Suppliers can be anything from the companies who provide you with your equipment, to energy companies as well as the technology companies who provide your practice management software.
If you rent your premises, you may feel that you do not have the ability to influence your energy supply, but why not speak with your landlord and suggest switching to a green energy supplier.
Additionally, think about whether you can take steps to reduce the number of deliveries that you have to your premises by ordering in bulk, as well as choosing suppliers who use delivery companies who have committed to offsetting their carbon emissions.
Social media ‘likes’, Google searches and You Tube videos watched, all have a carbon footprint so how do you know if the software that you are using to run your practice is having a negative impact on the environment?
Many tech companies, including us at Rehab Guru, are proud of our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment, and so we are happy to tell you about the steps that we are taking to become carbon negative (we didn’t think ‘neutral’ was enough!). Over the past year we have been ensuring that all of Rehab Guru’s servers and wider architecture are ‘Hosted Green’ and powered by Green Energy or employs an audited carbon compensation scheme. Head to the bottom of our homepage to find out just how many trees we’ve planted this month, we think you’ll be surprised.
There really are numerous ways that your therapy business can improve its environmental impact. Not only will you be playing your part in the fight against climate change, there is even the added benefit that you will attract more clients as you can use it in your marketing messaging. So engage with your clients and team to make these small changes each day and ‘Be the Change’.
If you would like to know more about Rehab Guru’s features and benefits as well as the ways that we can support you to run a greener therapy practice, sign up here for your free month’s trial.
A former Exercise Rehabilitation Instructor (ERI) in the Royal Air Force (RAF). He went on to compete for Great Britain in Modern Pentathlon. He is now an RAF Training Officer. As the CTO he leads the engineering team at Rehab Guru.