4 Major Flaws Of Fax Machines In Healthcare

by The DermEngine Team on Nov 26, 2018

No matter what sector, research indicates that medical professionals can’t seem to let go of the fax machine. Part 1 of this article summarizes the top four reasons behind this decision along with the largest challenges currently faced by healthcare workers. Building on these discoveries, the following segment will unpack the flaws behind the most revered traits of these machines.

Below are the top four benefits summarized by medical professionals to be the reasons for them to rely on fax machines in their day-to-day practice:Fax Machine Commuication In Healthcare For Patient Medical Records

1. Security: Initially deemed as a secure method for information sharing, a recent report cites printer-fax combination machines as vulnerable to being hacked.1 Additionally, the risk of sending private patient medical records to a wrong number or simply having the document sit in a tray for unauthorized staff to see run inherent security risks.

2. Familiarity: Perhaps the strongest influence of all, people are inclined to utilize applications that they are familiar with. Unfortunately, this has brought health IT to such a standstill that the government created an initiative to encourage practices to switch to an EMR.2

3. Affordability: Initially applauded for its affordability, the process of faxing documents is actually proving to be a major financial liability to the healthcare system. Research demonstrates that medical providers need to fill out an average of 20,000 forms on an annual basis with the average organization spending ~$20 in labor alone to file each physical document.3

4. Communication: Jammed documents or mis-sent files are only the beginning of fax-related communication errors. One study found that 1 in 5 faxed requests for consultations fail to receive a response, while another concluded that only 54% of faxed referrals result in scheduled appointments.3 Identified as the cause of as many as 50% of medical errors, more than 25% of hospital readmissions can be avoided with optimized communication.2

The Race For Interoperability
Although a complex challenge, the primary solution promoted by the government and industry experts alike is the adoption of EMR software. However, it is important to note that this is not without its own flaws. Even as practices are upgrading to electronic health records, their system is often unable to transfer information to other machines (either within the practice or elsewhere such as to a specialist or pathology lab).

Interoperable EMR Software For Connected Care

As a result, reports estimate that only 41% of U.S. hospitals are able to send and receive patient medical records to and from external sources in 2013.3 Building on this concept, a study found that although over two thirds of hospitals utilize at least one electronic health records system, only ~30% possessed systems that were interoperable with other providers. Additionally, only 19% reported to often utilize this outside patient data for enhanced patient care.4

As a result, not only do practices need to implement interoperable software and it must be (ideally) adopted by all.  A new generation of cloud-based practice management software, interoperability allows different systems to “talk” and “understand” one another to ensure that all information is not only documented, but able to be utilized towards the patient’s care plan.

Concluding Thoughts
Within the current healthcare system is a labyrinth of challenges where the usage of fax machines is merely a product of other pitfalls, namely the implementation of integrative electronic medical software. Moving forward, it is paramount that medical professionals do not simply adopt any practice management software. Rather, connectivity and scalability must be at the core of this criteria. As a result, medical professionals are faced with the unique opportunity to minimize costs, increase practice efficiency and save lives all by moving past a machine commercialized in the 1960’s.

-The MetaOptima Team

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Sources:
  1. https://venturebeat.com
  2. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com
  3. https://getreferralmd.com
  4. https://slate.com

Topics: Dermatology Dermatology EMR System EMR EHR Dermatology EMR Interoperability EMR System Cloud Based EMR Cloud Computing Cloud EMR Software Integration