The eFax Blog

Why It’s Time to Replace the Fax Machine

Sep 11, 2020 - by eFax Team
We here at eFax are in the business of faxing, which means we’re painfully aware of how many businesses are still using fax machines.

How many is that?

Millions.

Around the world, about 43 million fax machines are used to send billions of fax documents every year. While they’ve all but left the home environment, fax machines are still present in businesses around the globe, in worryingly high numbers.

You might have noticed we’re not painting fax machines in a particularly positive light. Find out why we think it’s time to replace the fax machine.

 

Fax Machines, a National Crisis and the US Healthcare Industry: A Lesson in Failure

Welcome to the US healthcare sector, a place facing a mounting health crisis.

During these unprecedented times, efficiency in the healthcare sector is paramount. Time wasting costs lives, but wasted time and slowdowns are exactly what the US healthcare sector is experiencing. And it’s all because of fax machines.

Fax machine communications account for around 75% of all document transmissions in the US healthcare service, which is bad news.

This isn’t even because fax machines are a nightmare for security and data protection (which they are), instead, it’s because they are slow, cumbersome and prone to errors — both technically and as the result of human input.

Since the healthcare industry in the US is reliant on outdated technology, there is no way to avoid using it, which forces healthcare professionals to deal with the associated issues.

These issues are irritating and time-consuming enough already, with fax machines notoriously hated amongst those working in the US healthcare industry. However, during the current national health crisis, things have become far worse than usual.

Owed to the enormous scale of the crisis, the sector’s reliance on fax machines means that data and documents are being churned out by fax machines at an alarming and unmanageable rate.

Some 1,000 documents are being faxed to individual doctor’s offices every day.

And it’s becoming too much to handle.

Responsible for three-quarters of all medical communications, fax is being used to share a vast amount of information essential to saving lives, but the quantity of this information has become overwhelming.

There is no internal infrastructure devised to deal with such demand or to monitor this data. And faxes — being so inefficient as they are — mean the paper is just stacking up. The result? Information communicated via fax is being acted upon much too late.

In a national health crisis, that costs more than just dollars and it only gets worse.

The numerous technical problems posed by fax machines also mean that sometimes files aren't sent properly, are sent incomplete, don’t send at all or are sent in duplicate, creating more work.

Normally, this would just be a minor annoyance that could easily be remedied. However, the sheer volume of fax being sent right now means that the errors are lost in a sea of fax machine noise.

Not only is there too much fax data to manage, but there are a multitude of errors occurring that are impossible to keep track of.

The fact that this data is all paper-based also means it then needs to be manually entered into a digital system, absorbing huge amounts of time and slowing things down further.

In short, the existence of fax machines in the US healthcare sector is worsening a national healthcare crisis, which has already cost tens of thousands of lives. At a time where the US healthcare sector needs all the help it can get, fax machines are failing it.

 

Should US Healthcare Axe the Fax? In Defence of the Fax

Fax machines have left the US healthcare sector in the lurch, but should this have been allowed to happen? Doctors in the States already know that fax machines are a nightmare to work with and have done so for decades.

So why does fax still exist in the US healthcare sector?

For the same reason it still exists in the NHS.

The problem is that fax itself isn’t actually the issue. Fax, as a method of communication, is invaluable for healthcare. It allows for essential documents to be transmitted quickly in a visual way that makes them easy to consume. Fax also enables the transmission of legally-binding signatures, which is very important for healthcare.

The issue is the fax machine itself: the hardware that sends the document.

As a method of communication, fax has a lot of benefits. The fax machine as a conduit of fax transmission is a dinosaur that refuses to go extinct.

 

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Fax Machine Technical Issues: Technology Built for a Different Time

Why is the fax machine such a problem?

In truth, it’s nothing more complicated than the fact that the fax machine is old. Over time, we develop new technologies. Why do we develop new technologies? To improve upon the previous generation of technology and to solve new problems in new ways.

Every year, fresh editions of technology appear to make our lives easier and better. Things are always moving forward. Well, almost always.

The fax machine is a piece of technology that bucks the trend. While the world around it evolves, the fax machine stays planted as hardware that hasn’t seen any sort of improvement for around half a century.

As a result, the fax machine still carries technical issues that would normally have been updated and resolved. Issues with fax machines include:

- Fax Negotiation Failure
- Communication Errors
- “No Fax Detected” Warnings
- Destination Number Blocks
- “Number Busy” Notifications

Each of these technical problems is different, but the result is the same. The fax isn’t sent properly and productivity is hampered.

If you use a fax machine regularly, you’ve probably experienced all of the above at least once. These, on top of a million other problems — from paper jams to stubborn fax machine antics — demonstrate just how many technical issues exist in the fax machine that lead to unsent communication or incomplete data transfers.

The example of the US healthcare sector demonstrates just how devastating the cost of fax machine technical failings can be.

But it’s not just the US healthcare sector that uses fax machines, as we’ve already established. Millions of businesses across the world are suffering at the hands of fax machines.

Yet how can you replace the fax machine if fax is irreplaceable?

Replace Your Fax Machine with Cloud Fax

What we understand about fax and fax machines is this:

- The fax itself is a fantastic method of communication. It’s visual, it’s easy to use and it’s legally authentic.

- The fax machine — the tool that enables fax to be sent — is not fit for purpose in the modern era. It’s slow, riddled with errors and it’s wreaking havoc as a result.

The solution is simple: fax without the fax machine.

On the surface, it doesn’t make much sense. Surely fax and the fax machine are mutually exclusive? Can you have one without the other?

Well, yes. Yes you can.

Cloud fax is exactly that. It’s fax as you know it — the visual kind that sends a document from one piece of hardware to another that you can pick up and read instantly — but it’s all digital. Your phone or computer becomes the fax machine and the visual competent is the screen. It’s all there in black and white, but it’s online. You don’t flick through pages, you scroll through them.

Why is this better?

Because it uses the technology that should have replaced fax machines in the first place. Cloud fax eliminates the technical errors and the minefield of problems that fax machines present and, instead, puts the still-valuable fax communication method on a system that’s built for the demands of the modern-day.

So how does cloud fax solve the problems with the US healthcare sector and how can it serve as a replacement for fax machines to help solve your problems too?

Digital fax is a powerful tool because it’s easy to manage and control. It’s not reams of paper pumped out into a fax tray to be sorted. Management of the documents can be automated and categorised. The digital nature of the information also means it can be adapted and integrated with other digital systems so that a document faxed using cloud fax can be transferred to a different system where the data can be unpacked and used for whatever purpose it is needed for. You can remove the manual labour and all the confusion of having to figure out which piece of paper goes where.

Cloud fax simplifies the fax management process.

But there’s more than that. A lot of businesses want to replace their fax machine but they can’t because of one simple problem: other businesses still use fax machines. If they ditch their fax machine, they lose communication. In the US healthcare sector — with 75% of communication submitted via fax — cutting out the fax means you cut out the vast majority of document transmissions.

You just can’t do it.

But with cloud fax, you can send a fax online. Cloud fax is a system integrated not just with modern technology, but the technology from which it was inspired. Cloud fax is compatible with fax machines. What this means is that if somebody you know sends you a fax via their fax machine, the cloud fax technology will convert that file into a digital one for you to read. It also means if you need to fax information to somebody without cloud fax, you can just send the digital document to their fax machine and they’ll receive it as a paper fax.

Even when others are lagging behind, you can stay ahead of the game.

Upgrade to eFax cloud faxing today and replace your fax machines with the evolution in fax technology. Sign up now and get immediate access to business-saving systems!

 

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