Why do health services still use fax machines?
Posted on June 29, 2016
2 min read
I’m sure at some point you may have wondered why the fax machine survives in health care today. The rest of the world has moved on, we are all connected on our smart devices and yet hospitals and GP practices still send and receive patient information using the fax.
So, why is this still the case and more importantly how do we change it? We can all hypothesise about what is stopping health care catching up with modern communications technology:
- There is no money
- Change is difficult
- Secure messaging is clunky
- It’s no one’s job to introduce new business technology.
So first to the money. Printing documents, handling documents and faxing documents uses valuable people resources. Secure messaging saves people time and hence money, even if there are still some work arounds required. In the cash strapped health system, savings from productivity improvements should not be over looked.
“Staff have better things to do with their time.”
Change is difficult. You need to be able to communicate changes to large numbers of staff. However, some changes are simple. Did you know you can use secure messaging directly out of Microsoft Word? Staff printing and faxing correspondence could be using secure messaging directly from their computer.
Secure messaging has been around for a long time and it’s true that the first round of secure email was clunky. Also, with variable up take of secure messaging and not every system able to send or receive, there are lots of broken work flows. During this transition phase you can still establish a document management system which will manage both faxes and secure messages.
Many fax services originate directly from the Patient Administration System (PAS) – so no people involved? Except for the General Practitioners on the receiving end. Connecting the PAS to secure messaging for Admission and Discharge notifications means that GPs can receive messages, eliminating paper and filing. For those GPs or Specialists that haven’t adopted secure messaging – it can still fail over to fax.
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