A paper by David Karpa and his co-authors “A Transparency Checklist for Carbon Footprint Calculations Applied within a Systematic Review of Virtual Care Interventions” is out at International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Abstract: Increasing concerns about climate change imply that decisions on the digitization of healthcare should consider evidence about its carbon footprint (CF). This study aims to develop a transparency catalogue for reporting CF calculations, to compare results, and to assess the transparency (reporting quality) of the current evidence of virtual care (VC) intervention. We developed a checklist of transparency criteria based on the consolidation of three established standards/norms for CF calculation. We conducted a systematic review of primary studies written in English or German on the CF of VC interventions to check applicability. Based on our checklist, we extracted methodological information. We compared the results and calculated a transparency score. The checklist comprises 22 items in the aim, scope, data and analysis categories. Twenty-three studies out of 1466 records were included, mostly addressing telemedicine. The mean transparency score was 38% (minimum 14%, maximum 68%). On average, 148 kg carbon dioxide equivalents per patient were saved. Digitization may have co-benefits, improving care and reducing the healthcare CF. However, the evidence for this is weak, and CF reports are heterogeneous. Our transparency checklist may serve as a reference for developing a standard to assess the CF of virtual and other healthcare and public health services.