Dr Thomas Constantine, director of Coastal Medical Imaging, shares his experience of setting up a sustainable radiology clinic.
As the founder of a small radiology clinic in North Wales, I’ve been able to steer our business towards a sustainable future from the ground up.
Coastal Medical Imaging has now been open more than 12 months and we’re learning about how environmentally friendly decisions often align with commercial viability.
Working in the healthcare sector, we strongly believe in safeguarding not only our patients’ current health but also the health of future generations.
On a personal level, I have two children and a family, so it’s important to me to conduct business ethically. Trying to reduce carbon to net zero is one of the ways to achieve this.
We formalised our commitment to running a green clinic with a written sustainability policy soon after opening in April 2022 and began crafting our carbon reduction plan.
As a startup, we grappled with identifying our initial carbon emissions, but as we stabilised operations, we have been gradually forming a clearer picture of our environmental impact.
The time when we really started to focus our attention on sustainability was when we applied for a local framework agreement, that allows us to bid for tenders for outsourcing from the public sector.
This required us to commit to a net zero carbon target by 2050 and to reduce our carbon emissions by 20 per cent over the next five years.
Whitepaper link: White-Paper-on-Green-
To record our carbon emissions, we are utilising an online calculator from Carbon Footprint Ltd. This tool has been instrumental in helping us assess our energy consumption and travel emissions.
The process is still ongoing as we sort through a year’s worth of data. This includes everything from electricity and gas bills to travel logs and work-from-home energy usage.
It’s a time-consuming process, but we’re committed to ensuring accuracy so that we can form a reliable baseline for future decision-making.
One of the first steps we took was to condense our clinics into fortnightly extended sessions, which significantly reduced energy consumption and travel emissions.
Patients are happy to wait a few more days for their scan, as it’s still considerably less than they would wait in the public sector.
This means that we’re now using the building much less and sonographers are not coming to and from the clinic using fossil fuels in their cars.
Also, the ultrasound machine is turned on much less. That’s one example of how we’ve made a commercial decision that has also been in line with sustainability.
Our commitment to sustainability extends to our equipment too. The clinic uses an ultrasound machine that we can easily switch on and off to minimise energy consumption.
We’re also proud that our electricity tariff comes from a 100% renewable source, and we’re now exploring options to reduce our gas usage, potentially even switching to an electricity source for heating the building.
In the future, we plan to integrate MRI scanners, which will undoubtedly pose new challenges due to their high energy needs.
We’re contemplating a mobile unit, but we need to consider the carbon emissions implications of its transport.
This adds another layer of complexity to our operations, but we’re determined to find the most sustainable solution by offsetting the energy that we use.
Our workstations are another area where we’ve been able to reduce our carbon footprint. We have two workstations at the clinic – one for reporting and one for the reception.
Thanks to using the OpenRad domestic cloud platform, we have been able to use just a small computer for reporting images rather than a traditional server room with high energy consumption and cooling needs.
The cloud-based system allows our sonographers to work remotely, reducing travel emissions.
If they need to do an addendum for a report or if we need a radiologist to complete some quality assurance, everything can be done from home through the cloud.
My advice to anyone considering setting up a radiology clinic would be to ensure that sustainability remains a core ethos from the start.
Using companies like OpenRad that have a cloud-based system not only saves time and money, but also reduces carbon emissions and electricity.
Finding solutions that allow people to work remotely also helps your business to be more sustainable.
As we continue to grow and expand, we’re committed to remaining true to our green roots, by making decisions that are environmentally conscious.
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