Why Are Doctors Still Using Fax Machines?

by The DermEngine Team on Nov 22, 2018

Fax machines have long held a place within the healthcare system for relaying important information. On the eve of digital healthcare innovations, it is astonishing to learn that this outdated hardware still possesses such a strong hold within the industry- so strong in fact that it is becoming detrimental to the healthcare industry’s efficiency and quality of patient care.

Studies show that fax machines still account for an astonishing 66% of communications in Canada and 75% in the United States.1,2  This is surprising for a number of reasons, but most prominently the fact that there has been such widespread innovations within healthcare, such as artificial intelligence (AI) for clinical decision support, total body photography and teledermatology.

In fact, as healthcare providers continue to be more spread out to accommodate industry shortages (such as with dermatologists) and to support rural communities, it only makes sense that practitioners are adopting electronic medical record software (EMR). So why isn’t this this case?

Dermatologist Investigating Patient File on DermEngine Intelligent Dermatology Software

Identified Benefits Of Fax Machines
Among a large list of reasons emerge four clear trends among surveys regarding why medical experts across professions elect to hold onto their outdated fax machine:

  1. Security: Fax machines are HIPAA-compliant and physically based within an office/workplace, whereas many newer EMR systems are stored in the cloud which has been identified as a point of concern by some professionals.

  2. Familiarity: Medical professionals prefer to use a system they know how to use in order to avoid unnecessary confusion. Due to the majority age range of medical professionals to be greater than age 56 (46%), many are particularly hesitant to adopt newer technologies.3

  3. Affordability: With 67% of physicians who plan never adopt an EHR cite lack of financial resources as a primary factor, it is easy to understand why many medical professionals are relying on the comparably cheap price of fax machines.4

  4. Ability to communicate (with other systems): As the demand for interoperable EMRs continues to rise, many medical professionals are relying on the fact that the fax machines ideally work with all other brands and models for the guaranteed transfer of information (pending technical difficulties or user error).

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Final Thoughts
Compiled together, this information creates a clear map of the current obstacles experienced by medical personnel. Before healthcare professionals can confidently adopt new EMR software, they must first be sure that it will meet all the criteria that their fax machine does (and more). Only a secure, affordable, and interoperable electronic medical records software (EMR) will be able to pull the healthcare industry out of its effective standstill on progress. Until then, all visionary professionals and their practices who already have such software will be forced to continue to rely on fax machines until their colleagues follow suit.

-The MetaOptima Team

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  1. https://www.theglobeandmail.com
  2. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com
  3. https://www.statista.com
  4. https://www.healthit.gov

Topics: Dermatology Artificial Intelligence AI EHR EMR Interoperability Dermatology EMR Cloud Computing Cloud EMR Software Cloud Based EMR Dermatology EMR System EMR System