Last September, Leeds Teaching Hospital located in Leeds, England pledged to Axe the Fax as part of a nationwide campaign to ban and replace fax machines across the National Health Service (NHS) with more modern and secure communications systems.
Richard Kerr, chair of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Commission on the Future of Surgery, said: “It is ludicrous that so much of the NHS is still reliant on fax machines to communicate. There are very exciting technologies coming down the road that promise to transform the way we provide medical care to patients. The NHS needs a modern communications system that matches up to these technological advances.”
In place of fax machines, the NHS introduced a secure email standard, and has confirmed that all fax machines will be completely replaced by 2020. But the NHS isn’t the only healthcare organization that has identified the dangers of using fax machines and is taking action to mitigate risk.
In Saskatchewan, where 40 million faxes are sent per year, an individual’s patient information was mistakenly sent to the wrong person. As a result, the province has pledged to their patients that faxes will be replaced.
Fax technology is over 100 years old, and has served as the preferred communications method for healthcare providers since before 1980. But, as Richard Kerr states, technology has evolved, and so have threats to privacy, security, and compliance, which begs the question: Does the fax machine still have a place in modern healthcare? Or, is it time for North American healthcare systems to follow suit, ban fax machines, and embrace secure email solutions as the NHS has?
We’ll share our thoughts on this important issue in our next article, but in the meantime we want to hear from you. When entire countries are banning fax machines, and entire provinces within Canada are following suit, why does the healthcare industry continue to not only use a tool that decreases efficiencies, but has resulted in patient death?