A fax machine walks into a doctor's office...the not-so-funny joke about health information exchange

30 years ago, a fax machine, an eight-track tape player and a pager walk into a doctor’s office looking for a job. Which one of them is still working in that medical office today? Why, the fax machine of course!

Even with the move to electronic health records, healthcare organizations rely on faxing as the least common denominator for exchanging health information.

According to a recent survey collected from over 1000 doctors nationwide, more than half — 63% of physicians — still use fax as a main form of communication.

The healthcare industry, it has been said, is slow to adopt new information technologies, and in the case of fax machines seemingly even slower to abandon old ones.  

However, given the huge investments providers are making in electronic medical record systems, it's not an accurate assertion that the industry is slow to change or that providers are to blame.  Rather, the reason fax technology continues to play a central role in health information exchange is because an electronic health information exchange standard has not successfully replaced it.  To understand why is a topic for another day.

Regardless the reason, the result of our continued reliance on the fax medium is that providers aren't able to get the full benefit of their investments in EMR systems.  When information exchanged between providers remains locked in unstructured documents - even if electronic - the data trapped within these documents is not actionable within the EMR.

Fortunately, Extract intelligent clinical data extraction software can automatically extract the actionable clinical data from unstructured medical records, including those that appear in your fax machine or that are already in the media tab, and upload the data into the proper discrete EMR data fields.

Our software accurately identifies and captures at least 80% of the correct discrete data elements within unstructured documents (most customers report closer to 90%). To achieve nearly perfect accuracy, our software empowers users with an intuitive data verification interface to make corrections or to capture the remainder quickly and efficiently.

Our intelligent data extraction alleviates over 80% of the burden currently placed on clinicians to manually abstract these documents and makes  the full benefits of your EMR investment more attainable.

So if you have a fax machine – we can help! As for the eight-track tape deck and pager – I’m afraid you’re on your own.

About the Author: Joseph Smith

With over 15 years experience working with large hospitals and health systems in both HIS and communication platforms, Joseph Smith helps healthcare organizations streamline data entry to enable fast access to critical information. He blogs on topics relating to advanced data capture, and automating workflows.