The Fax Machine is Bogging Down Our Coronavirus Response & Here’s What We Can Do About It!

The Fax Machine is Bogging Down Our Coronavirus Response

Table of Contents

Lengthy waits for COVID-19 test results have become commonplace in communities across the nation. And it is clear fax machines are a contributing factor.

A recent article in the New York Times sums up the issue well (Bottleneck for U.S. Coronavirus Response: The Fax Machine). Reporters Sara Kliff and Margot Sanger-Katz say healthcare organizations are trying to manage a pandemic with a broken data system that makes it impossible to share information electronically in a usable format.

The result: We have costly delays in case reporting and contact tracing, which are vital to slowing the spread of the virus.

Public health officials in Houston, for example, describe receiving hundreds of pages of test data at a time, which spray across the floor. They even have waist-high stacks of results intended for another county. In Washington State the fax problem became so dire the National Guard was asked to step in to help with data entry.

Why faxing? 

So why is information sent by fax? Many healthcare organizations moved to electronic health records a decade ago. Unfortunately, though, most of these systems are rarely able to talk to each other. Unless organizations are using a single EHR, clinical information is often faxed out of their platform creating more paper faxes and issues that have existed for years resulting in lost information, inefficient workflows and poor communication.  To add to the dilemma, many public health departments haven’t made the transition to electronic health records at all. As a result, the archaic fax machine is used to bridge the technology divide.

What can we do about it?

Fortunately, there is a proven, web-based solution that allows healthcare organizations to go paper-free and to share and manage information securely online. PH Capture automatically converts incoming faxes into HIPAA-compliant electronic files that can be managed and shared online – eliminating the paper-shuffle. Team members have instant access to information, even if they are working from home. And they can quickly import it into their system of choice.

It’s a simple, elegant and affordable solution to a costly problem. Contact Proficient Health today to learn more.