It's Time To Face The Fax

The fax machine has been around for a long time. How long you ask? It was invented in 1843 by Alexander Bain. While the technology peaked in American business in the early 80’s. Fax machines are still a vital piece of equipment in the healthcare industry. A recent article written about the Arlington Women’s Center talks about the importance fax machines play in the modern healthcare industry.

Most clinics have digitized their patient data, but one clinic’s electronic system cannot speak to another clinic’s system, which is where the fax machine comes in. For example, at the Arlington Women’s Center, patients get their ultrasounds done at a radiology office, that is in the same building, but is a few floors below. The office has its own digital record, but the clinic and radiology systems don’t align. So, they print the record, fax it, and then scan the pages in to their digital system.

Most industries abandoned the fax machine in the 1990s partly because they are not the best resource for sending data. But in the healthcare industry, faxes are as dominant as they ever have been. “It is the cockroach of American medicine: hated by doctors and medical professionals but able to survive — even thrive — in a hostile environment. By one private firm’s estimate, the fax accounts for about 75 percent of all medical communication. It frustrates doctors, nurses, researchers, and entire hospitals”

During the Obama administration, $30 billion was spent to encourage hospitals and clinics to make the transition from paper to electronic records. The program saw great success, but there was a huge oversight as they didn’t account for the need of sharing patient records and information. “The fax machine remains medicine’s dominant method of communication,” because they are left printing the records and faxing them.

While the fax machine has its disadvantages, it does have some financial incentives for the industry. “While patients might want one hospital to exchange information with another hospital, those institutions have little incentive to do so. A shared medical record, after all, makes it easier to see a different doctor.” So, when competing entities are able to share patient information they could be sharing things that could be helping their competitors.

Extract recognizes the importance of fax machines in the healthcare industry. Our HealthyData platform is an intelligent document handling solution that can sort the documents for you, route them to the right place, and even capture the important information from the documents and file it into your EMR. Allowing your entry staff to quickly handle the exception cases and your clinicians to easily find what they are looking for when they need it.


About the Author: Taylor Genter

Taylor is the Marketing Specialist at Extract with experience in data analytics, graphic design, and both digital and social media marketing.  She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater. Taylor enjoys analyzing people’s behaviors and attitudes to find out what motivates them, and then curating better ways to communicate with them.