According to a study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, physicians are interrupted nearly five times an hour by phone calls, emails, and face-to-face interactions. The 2012 National Physicians Survey showed something that is unlikely to surprise many doctors - fax remains the dominant method of communicating with colleagues, patients, insurance companies and pharmacists. All told, 63 percent of healthcare providers rely heavily on the technology, according to MMRGlobal.
In fact, faxing by computer is not only common among physicians, it is central to their operations. "In the world of health IT, the only piece of standard equipment found in any hospital or doctor's office is the fax," Bob Lorsch, MMRGlobal's CEO, told Health Tech Zone. "Fax technologies now integrate into the most advanced electronic medical records systems because that is the standard the majority of physicians still want to use."
As most doctors know, faxes are integral for several reasons.Their renowned security helps ensure patients' privacy, the ability to send authorized signatures expedites services, and the ease of sending images gives physicians another medium to help carry out their jobs. As the survey indicates, the medical industry's reliance on faxing doesn't appear to be dissipating anytime soon.
So how are medical professionals balancing their practice management with patients? Many healthcare professionals are utilizing cloud software. In fact, according to GlobalData, the mobile health technology market is expected to exceed $8 billion by 2018.
"The reason why it's going to be around for many years down the road is that people associate fax with paper and a machine, when really it's a file format that's compatible with the phone network," Neal McCann, vice president of strategic partnership at Biscom, told Healthcare IT News. "It's not going away, it's just morphing a little bit."
With online faxing, doctors are able to utilize their mobile phone's camera as a fax machine. Rather than going through the time-consuming process of scanning a document to a computer, doctors can fax a document - whether it be a prescription or patient consent form - simply by taking a photo of it with a phone. In addition, online faxing allows doctors to sign documents, STAT. Urgent, time-sensitive documents can be signed simply by dropping a digitized signature onto an online fax.
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