Digital health for climate change mitigation and response: a scoping review

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2022 Nov 14;29(12):2140-2152. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocac134.


Objective: Climate change poses a major threat to the operation of global health systems, triggering large scale health events, and disrupting normal system operation. Digital health may have a role in the management of such challenges and in greenhouse gas emission reduction. This scoping review explores recent work on digital health responses and mitigation approaches to climate change.

Materials and methods: We searched Medline up to February 11, 2022, using terms for digital health and climate change. Included articles were categorized into 3 application domains (mitigation, infectious disease, or environmental health risk management), and 6 technical tasks (data sensing, monitoring, electronic data capture, modeling, decision support, and communication). The review was PRISMA-ScR compliant.

Results: The 142 included publications reported a wide variety of research designs. Publication numbers have grown substantially in recent years, but few come from low- and middle-income countries. Digital health has the potential to reduce health system greenhouse gas emissions, for example by shifting to virtual services. It can assist in managing changing patterns of infectious diseases as well as environmental health events by timely detection, reducing exposure to risk factors, and facilitating the delivery of care to under-resourced areas.

Discussion: While digital health has real potential to help in managing climate change, research remains preliminary with little real-world evaluation.

Conclusion: Significant acceleration in the quality and quantity of digital health climate change research is urgently needed, given the enormity of the global challenge.

Keywords: digital health; global warming; health informatics; scoping review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Greenhouse Gases*


  • Greenhouse Gases