Healthcare is a tough industry to implement environmentally friendly practices. It has historically required lots of paperwork and produces a lot of waste. Additionally, all facilities must maintain an extremely sanitary environment, which often requires harsh chemicals. As many of you might have noticed at your last visit to our office, we are working hard in our clinic to do things differently to support the environment.
Earth-Friendly Eye Care
Here are 10 ways Gem State Family Eyecare has become more eco-friendly this year.
1. Contact Lens Recycling Program
We have joined forces with Bausch+Lomb and TerraCycle to recycle contact lenses and their entire packaging to keep these microplastics out of waterways and landfills, where they often end up because there hasn’t been a better option. We not only recycle all of the diagnostic lenses and packaging we use in the office, but we also act as a collection site for patients and educate contact lens wears on how to recycle these at home. Check out the Bausch+Lomb Recycling Program to learn more.
2. Glasses Recycling
We collect previously used glasses from our patients and the community in our office. Once we have a large number, we contact our local Lion’s Club to pick up the glasses. The Lion’s Club has recycling centers where they clean them up, neutralize them to determine the power, and package them to send on global medical mission trips. There are recycling centers all over the world and Dr. Holman has personally been on many of the trips to distribute these glasses. Giving the gift of sight and helping our planet feels so great!
3. LED Lighting
Our entire office was previously powered by compact fluorescent lights, which use approximately twice the energy than LEDs. As our lights have been needing to be replaced, we have been switching to LED and are almost completely switched over. LEDs also last 6.25 times longer than fluorescent lights!
4. Electronic Practice Management and Electronic Health Record Software
Dr. Holman has used electronic systems since the inception of Gem State Family Eyecare in 2011. When she purchased Clearview Family Eyecare in 2016, switching from a large, paper-based system required major changes.
First, we scanned all the existing patient records into the new electronic systems. Then we had to shred and recycle all that we could to keep private medical information from being compromised. We believe this system is not only safer for our patients but also better for the environment.
5. Electronic Statements and Payment Portal
Just this year we implemented an entirely electronic system for sending claims to insurance companies and statements to patients. We find that, overall, our patients prefer this system. We even added a payment portal so patients don’t have to send in a check, saving them paper, stamps, time, and money. Unless you specifically request a printed version, we send you a secure message with statements, receipts, and prescriptions.
6. Electronic Recall System and Appointment Reminders
In our industry, it is common for letters and postcards to be sent to patients reminding them of upcoming appointments. Wow, does the paper add up! We also see a huge amount of waste when we get a stack of them back from patients who have moved. This last month we have been focusing our efforts on eliminating the old-fashioned recall/reminder system, opting instead for text, phone, and email whenever possible. Again, our patients tend to prefer these methods too and we get to be more sustainable.
7. Patient Kiosk
Every time you go into a doctor's office there seems to be a ton of paperwork. This includes privacy policies, financial agreements, and medical history updates. Typically, that is 3-6 pieces of paper per patient per visit. We knew this was an area we could make a major impact so we implemented a patient kiosk. Last year we were honored to serve over 1200 patients. That saves 3600-7200 pieces of paper if they only saw us once! We are still working out the bugs on this one but already we have saved a ton.
8. Patient Portal
As we mentioned previously if at all possible we send patients documents securely and electronically. Our secure patient portal is where we send our patients statements, copies of their prescriptions, quotes, and anything else they may need.
9. Using Real Cups vs Disposable Cups
Most offices use paper -- or worse, the dreaded styrofoam cups -- for their patients. We love the personal touch of a porcelain coffee cup and just do the dishes each day! It's a super easy switch and much safer and healthier altogether.
10. Using Toilet Paper Made from Recycled Paper
This was another simple step to implement. We order in bulk and have auto-shipped a high-quality toilet paper made of recycled paper. It comes in a recyclable cardboard box, wrapped in paper, not plastic. And, it is hilarious to boot! If you have never heard of this company, go check out Who Gives A Crap!
These are just a few of the ways we have changed things up in our clinic to be more sustainable.
Each quarter we have a team meeting and we are always trying to figure out ways to improve our clinic to enhance our patients’ lives. We believe being environmentally friendly is one way to uphold our mission so we are excited to brainstorm ways every 90 days to do this better. Some of the ideas we have for our long term plans include: switching from disposable cups to reusable ones and switching to air hand dryers instead of paper towels. We know that we have a long way to go but every action taken is a step towards a healthier planet!
To learn more about Gem State, please contact us today!