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Philips and VUMC partner to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and total cost of scanner ownership

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | December 04, 2023
CT MRI Ultrasound X-Ray
VUMC and Philips will share their successful practices for reducing CO2 emissions from medical imaging scanners and total cost of ownership.
Philips and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are sharing best practices developed from a research collaboration that significantly reduced medical imaging carbon dioxide emissions, as well as total cost of ownership.

The two announced their project in May, with VUMC providing radiology and equipment energy consumption data for Philips to derive insights about operational workflow and add them to computational model simulations that could show potential interventions for reducing the provider’s carbon footprint.

The two organizations assessed 13 MR, CT, ultrasound, and X-ray devices used by VUMC to scan an estimated 12,000 patients per month. They found that over 10 years, these scanners together emitted CO2 levels equivalent to approximately 1,000 gas cars driven for one year, and that their energy use accounted for more than half of total emissions released from diagnostic radiology.
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Here are its recommendations for decreasing CO2 waste in medical imaging, while saving money:

  • Adopt circular business models: Upgrades reduced the total cost of ownership in MR scanners by up to 23% and carbon emissions by 17%. For CT, they reduced costs by 8% and emissions by 4%. Refurbished equipment also decreased total cost and emissions for CT by 10% and 6%, respectively.

  • Pay attention to nonscanning time: In its analysis, Philips found 44%-75% of energy is consumed between scans, showing that techniques are needed to reduce carbon emissions when scanning is not taking place.

  • Enhance scanning efficiency: Providers should work with staff to improve scanning efficiency and setup to reduce emissions and also consider implementing AI solutions to potentially conserve energy and reduce unnecessary scan repetition, which, in turn, reduces emissions further.
“This study challenges conventional thinking that sustainability increases costs when it, in fact, does just the opposite. Energy-efficient, circular, digital, and cloud-based technologies can help address climate change, and this research shows that individual behavioral changes can also play an important role in speeding up global efforts towards decarbonization,” said Jeff DiLullo, chief region leader of Philips North America, in a statement.

The healthcare industry contributes 7.6% of U.S. and 4.4% of global CO2 emissions, with radiology a significant contributor.

Earlier this year, Philips became the first health technology company to gain approval for its entire value-chain CO2 emissions reduction targets by the Science-Based Targets initiative with strategic action plans. It helped 40% of its suppliers commit to science-based targets, putting it on track to achieve its 50% supplier commitment target for 2025.

VUMC and Philips are planning to publish their findings in a scientific journal.

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