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Do fax machines still have a place in the digitised world of human health?

Do fax machines still have a place in the digitised world of human health?

Everyday there are new statistics relating to NHS performance being published and discussed.  For some such as A&E waiting times you want to be at the top but finding yourself at the top of the list for reliance on ‘archaic’ fax machines is probably not an aspiration for any NHS Trust.  In 2017 they held the title as the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines. (DeepMind Health Independent Review Panel, 2017)

It’s always easy to be critical and to write a leading story about these facts however an issue that would appear to have a fairly simple solution or even choice of many solution offers may not be so simple to handle in such a massive organisation.  Like many organisations public and private sector, the NHS never set out to develop and maintain software that would fit their ever changing needs.  However, there are organisations out there whose business model is set out to do just that.  Here at Datatrial we have been building and deploying software for the compliant life science and healthcare environment, worldwide, for over 19 years.  In a nutshell our latest product offering Nucleus provides a cost effective hub for clinical information (documents, communication, and technologies) and more importantly it sits in a compliant environment. 

Blaming a ‘lack of funds’ for the current situation is probably missing the mark if confidential patient information is being communicated via an instant messaging app or sent to a fax machine sitting in a public area then it needs to be taken under control for the sake of improving patient outcomes and confidentiality.  When Senior doctors are describing the situation as ‘ludicrous’ and are asking for more modern forms of communication then they should be listened to and a plan for change should follow. 

Maybe the answer is to break down the big problem into more manageable, smaller parts - a Trust into departments or clinical sites.  With the biggest culprit on our doorstep, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust (BBC News, 2018) and with our current listing on the Digital Marketplace G Cloud 10 maybe I’ll drop them a line? Now, where to find 600 fax machine numbers!


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