White Coat, Black Art·white coat black art

Is it time to pull the plug on fax machines in medicine?

And now...for one work practice that is NOT shifting in medicine: The fax machine. So anachronistic, it's worthy of a "Hinterland Who's Who."

And now, we look at one aspect of medical culture that might want to think about a "workshift." 

You may be wondering why the medical world continues to cling to fax machines after other industries have moved on  to e-mail, texting and even WhatsApp. As near as I can tell, healthcare clings stubbornly to fax machines because those other 'new fangled' modes of communication aren't as secure from privacy breaches as the Fort Knox-like fax machine.

But not really.

In Nova Scotia a private business received faxes from family doctors referring patients to a mental health clinic because they used the wrong fax number. The fax machine at a farm in Corner Brook in Newfoundland and Labrador, kept humming with patient lab reports sent by the local health authority.  

I think it's time to find a way to make electronic transmission of health information private enough ... and escort the fax machine out of the Hinterland  -and your doctor's office -  to settle into extinction.

- Brian Goldman