We started the habit of getting things by mail or fax and then scanning them into the patient’s electronic chart. Bits of data were going from a computer that had generated the material to paper, to a fax, to paper and back into another computer. Paper everywhere—time wasted.
I received my first fax as a gift from my in-laws in 1990. It cost $800. It was the new technology, and it was great. My wife and I could “fax” notes back and forth to her parents, and it brought us all together and made Houston, Texas seem geographically closer.
A year ago, in 2010 and fully twenty years after my first fax, I decided that I no longer wanted to bother with it. It has not been easy to drag others along. The hospital where I work has all its charts stored electronically, but they still want to fax over the operative reports for me to sign and fax back so they can scan them into the patient’s chart again. Vendors do not want to email receipts, etc.
On this point I am holding fast. It is ludicrous to continue with faxes. I can sign a paper if I need to and email it back. The extra telephone line that was required for faxes is gone, and so are the reams of unwanted daily faxes advertising a quick getaway to Cancun. And all that beeping and whirring is finished too.
An electronic medical records system requires the accompaniment of electronic correspondence and puts an end to the use of paper shuffling. The fax is dead.
My fax machine works, but it has taken up a second career and is now performing much better as a garage ornament.