Fax stages a comeback

'It is really the predominant means of communication within the healthcare industry'
By Erin McCann
05:42 PM
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Vintage fax
Don't count fax out of the healthcare picture quite yet. In fact, with a few 21st century updates and a little adaptation, many fax software companies are staging a comeback. 
 
Chief among them is etherFAX, a six-year-old company developing hybrid fax solutions, taking a technology that found its first commercial applications back in the 1960s, into the cloud. 
 
On the HIMSS15 show floor, the company will be showing the etherFAX SEN, or Secure Exchange Network, a private fax network with end-to-end encryption, and a complete audit trail. It is also application- and device- agnostic. 
 
“We have hospitals using it today that have multiple facilities and whether they’re faxing from an EMR, a fax machine or some type of enterprise faxing application, those faxes and those documents are being securely transmitted with end-to-end encryption,” said etherFAX Chief Executive Officer Paul Banco. When communicating between devices on the etherFAX Secure Exchange Network documents are sent without ever hitting telephony. 
 
One of the company’s newest devices, the A2E, or analog-to-etherFAX, allows healthcare organizations to connect their existing fax machines to the cloud, enabling secure transport of unstructured data. 
 
“Because of the limitations of a regular fax machine, we never really had a way to get these fax machines or these multi-function centers or peripherals on to part of our network,” explained Banco. So now, etherFAX has teamed up with MultiTech to create the A2E, which allows organizations to take a fax-enabled device such as a Sharp or a Canon, for instance, and plug the analogue line into the device, while the other part of it plugs into the Secure Exchange Network.
 
Sounds good, but how many healthcare organizations are still using fax technology?
 
A 2012 physicians survey which collected data from some 1,190 docs nationwide on their technology use habits, found that the lion's share of physicians – 63 percent – still use fax as the primary form of communication. 
 
“It is really the predominant means of communication within the healthcare industry,” he said. “And it's going to be for quite some time.” It’s just a matter of taking the technology and “redefining new standards within the fax networks.”