If you wanted to buy something off your favorite online shop, and the only way to get your receipt was via fax, would you still buy it? Chances are you would, but forgo collecting your receipt altogether. The matter of the fact is that fax machines are (and have been) outdated for decades. But despite advances in medical grade computer technology, nearly 90% of hospitals still rely on these dinosaurs of machines to transfer patient data around the hospital. Why are fax machines still prevalent in hospitals around the country when medical grade computers are more advanced than ever? To answer this question, we will have to go back to when patient data was on paper instead of on medical grade computers.
The HITECH Act And Transition To Medical Computer Records
In 2009 amidst the previous economic recession, President Obama passed a series of legislation aimed at reinvigorating the economy. One of these acts was the HITECH Act, which among other things also set aside $30 billion for hospitals to revamp their paper medical records by digitizing them and putting them on medical grade computers. The switch from paper medical records to digital ones on medical computers proved to be a huge success, with medical computer-based patient records jumping from from 9 percent in 2008 to 83 percent in 2015 according to Vox.
The large stimulus amount in this Act is mostly responsible for this jump in medical computer-based record usage. But even though hospitals adopted the use of medical grade computers for their records, the industry that created patient record software still had some catching up to do.
There was no part in this Act that forced these software companies to work together on standardizing files. Because of this, a radiologist may want to send an X-ray over to a cardiologist in the same hospital, but have no way for the file to accurately transfer. This harkened back to the earliest days of computers, when programs and files had no standardization and often required specific software and hardware combinations to work.
Thus, the fax machine was used to physically print off patient information from medical computers, and send copies to other departments and hospitals.
How Can Hospitals Ditch The Fax Machine?
If medical grade computers are flying cars, then fax machines are roads. While they played an important role in the transition to full medical grade computer use, they are quickly approaching their expiration date. Medical computers have long had medical software that is both safe and secure, and capable of transporting medical data.
Secure email can also play a pivotal role in transferring patient data between medical grade computers. These options also allow hospitals to save on paper and ink costs, and free up valuable realty that is taken up by bulky fax machines. However, this does not explain how hospitals can get their medical grade software to communicate with each other.
The 21st Century Cures Act requires that medical software to exchange medical data with other medical software without special effort. The exact meaning of this Act is still up for debate, but is promising in its scope. If implemented as intended, this Act would require medical software companies to play nice with each other, and finally allow that radiologist to email the cardiologist an X-Ray.
How Can Hospitals Be Ready For The Removal Of Fax Machines?
Fax machines have come and gone for a large part of the economy. Hospitals, being some of the last to make the transition away from the fax machine have many choices to choose from. With quality medical computer technology, hospitals can make this transition easily and securely. Contact Tangent sales today to learn about special offers on upgrading your hospital to the digital age.