Getting the fax straight
Why fax technologies continue to find favor among healthcare providers
Some veteran technologies know how to stand their ground -- this despite the modern technology takeover threatening to expunge their very existence. Video was slated to kill the radio star, but no crime was recorded. The automobile industry was expected to drive out railroads, but trains are still on track.
In the healthcare realm, fax has also flaunted its feisty figure amidst a burgeoning epoch of innovative health information technology. According to the annual National Physicians Survey released in June this year, fax still remains the predominant form of communication for 63 percent of healthcare providers, and some experts say it will continue to feed into the future.
Fax technology continues to be modernized and reshaped -- an adaption that contributes to its resilient nature, said Neal McCann, vice president of strategic partnership at fax services company, Biscom, The company has watched its sales increase by 20 percent this year alone, sending the message that fax is more than resilient, successful even.
"The reason why it's going to be around for many years down the road is that people associate fax with paper and a machine, when really it's a file format that's compatible with the phone network," McCann said. So, "it's not going away, it's just morphing a little bit."
Fax technologies can now integrate into electronic medical records (EMRs), where patient information can be sent to both the physician as well as to the EMR system.
Hospital radiology departments are also finding favor with fax technology, officials say. McCann mentioned one of Biscom's solutions, DiNet, a digital imaging network that meets HIPAA standards and allows physicians to send high definition radiographs and other images to healthcare providers.
This technology is not reminiscent of your mom and pop's fax machine, explained Don Dunning, CEO of Biscom. Mobile applications for Androids and iPhones are available so the user can access the faxes via virtually any mobile device.
Moreover, what's taken off lately is fax technology that is entirely software-based, requiring no hardware whatsoever. Many clients have traded in their fax boards for the more cost-efficient fax software.
Ben McLendon, director of information technology at the Valdosta, Ga.-based Barnes Healthcare Services, said Barnes utilizes a hybrid hosted fax solution, part cloud and part hardware. "It allows us to be a little less dependent on power and telecommunications here at our headquarters. So even if we're down," McLendon continued, "faxes are still coming in."