Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Faxing is still a core technology in healthcare

Here’s something that may surprise you: Despite the impression we’re often given by Hollywood, most doctors and hospitals aren’t using ultra-sophisticated electronic systems with really cool, colorful images to document, manage and share patient information. They’re still using handwritten notes, the phone and faxes.

That’s a fact that is reinforced in this post from The Health Care Blog. In it, author Margarlit Gur-Arie says that doctors currently transfer data everyday using common tools like the phone and fax. While there has been a lot of talk about moving to electronic health records (EHR), so far there’s more talk than movement in a lot of quarters. And a lot of skepticism.

The extensive use of faxing is certainly a reality at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Medical Center. According to MyFax customer Sujit Kar, IT manager for business development and marketing at MUSC, the Medical Center processes 50,000 inbound fax pages and another 10,000 outbound fax pages each month. When you do the math, it adds up to nearly three quarters of a million faxed pages each year!

That’s a lot of information to manage, especially given the stringent requirements of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Mishandling just one of those faxed pages could put MUSC Medical Center at risk of a HIPAA violation, which wouldn’t be good for anyone. In fact, reducing HIPAA violations is one of the major reasons MUSC Medical Center got rid of its fax machines and switched to MyFax. You can read more about it here.

Perhaps someday reality will measure up to Hollywood. Until that time, it’s good to know there are alternatives like MyFax that can protect your information and make the whole process more efficient.

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