As a ban on the purchase of Fax Machines comes into effect for the NHS next month, it is time to bid farewell to them for good?
Earlier this week, the Government announced that the NHS will no longer be allowed to purchase fax machines for office use. The decision comes in light of findings from a study conducted in July, which further revealed that nearly 9,000 fax machines were still in use within the NHS in England. With this rollback, the Department of Health have gone on to recommend that workers should use secure email in place of using fax machines. As a result, this provokes a bigger question across all industries – is it time for us to say farewell to the fax machine?
An ‘Archaic’ Technology
Over the years, fax machines have often been branded as archaic and outdated. But is there a substantial amount of evidence to suggest this is perhaps now the case? When asked, workers from within the NHS agreed that the use of fax machines is akin to being ‘stuck in the dark ages’. Rebecca McIntyre, a cognitive behavioral therapist from Manchester explains:
“Fax machines are a continued risk to the confidentiality and safeguarding of patients. You would not believe the palaver we have in the work place trying to communicate important documents to services (referrals etc.)”
Specifically within the NHS, discharge notes, emergency documents and out of hours services are all currently posing a risk, adds pharmacy worker, Taz:
“I hope that this is just the start of many changes. The amount of time wasted and potential errors that exist from not using technology is shocking and often it’s the patients that suffer.”
Are Fax Machines Causing a Wider Business Issue?
It’s wrong to assume however that fax machines are only having an impact on the NHS however. Other businesses who rely on what many consider to be outdated technology are also experiencing some struggles. A survey conducted by Coupon Chili, lays blame to use of the machines creating environmental problems along with being impractical in the modern workplace. Quoting that nearly 17 billion faxes are sent every year, this shocking statistic certainly sheds some light on the overall amount of paper that fax machines produce.
Speaking further on the relevancy of fax machines in today’s office, Lubor Ptack, Vice President of Product Marketing at virtual fax server company OpenText, cites:
“For most businesses holding on to paper is an environmentally unfriendly way of dealing with information, not to mention the inefficiencies that you get when dealing with paper. Fax machines are not a growing market. It has been declining heavily. Even the paper used in faxing has been declining. But the fax servers and fax over IP is a growing business.”
The Case for Keeping Fax Machines
But for some, there is still life in the fax machine yet. One such believer is the former co-founder of PatientBank, Paul Fletcher Hill. He forms the opinion that using fax is more secure than using other digital technology (email, printing, scanning) and that many recent ransomware and hacking attacks covered in the news over the past few years, only goes to evidence this.
“There’s a perception that digital systems are easily hackable, and it’s true that many hospitals have struggled with ransomware attacks recently. There’s some truth to the claim that fax is more secure, in the sense that even if a signal is intercepted – which is very possible – comprising a single transmission would be less severe than hacking an entire system of digital records. So while fax may be more vulnerable in individual instances, in the aggregate, it may be more secure.”
Where do you stand on the use of fax machines in the workplace?
Do you feel they have now become irrelevant? Or do you think they still have a place in offices across the country?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by sending us a tweet @OfficeSuppBlog.