In December, the BBC reported that the National Health Service (NHS) will be banned from buying fax machines and will have to replace their machines currently in place by March 31, 2020.
At first glance, this appears to be a shocking story…why is the NHS still using fax machines? It turns out that there’s a very good reason – and it’s not because they’re stuck in the dark ages.
Fax might seem outdated, but it still forms the backbone of healthcare systems around the world because it makes complying with healthcare privacy regulations much easier. This is because fax is a transmission method that is inherently secure, as opposed to email, which is inherently insecure. It takes a lot more work to keep emails safe from prying eyes.
There is an important nuance to the BBC report, that the NHS will be banned from using fax machines. Traditional fax machines are indeed ancient technology and are expensive to fix, connect to the phone system, and keep fed with paper and toner.
Fortunately, fax has evolved into something far more modern, economical, and reliable: Fax Over IP (FoIP). Today we don’t need a physical machine to securely fax documents. You can send and receive an electronic fax from a web page, mobile application, or an email client like Microsoft Outlook. The content of the fax is routed like an email, but more securely.
It is understandable why the NHS still uses fax, they have to keep their documents secure, but it’s also true that it’s time for them to adapt their communications systems to the modern era. This can be achieved by either putting a secure email solution in place, as the Department of Health would like or by modernizing their fax system.
Option 1: Improve Your Fax Solution
Fax is not going away anytime soon; it is being modernized with the technology we use today. Although change can be difficult, it is crucial for organizations to keep their communications infrastructure up-to-date.
A FoIP solution is one option for replacing traditional fax machines. By leveraging an existing infrastructure, organizations can eliminate the costs of analog phone lines, maintenance, paper, supplies and other related expenses, all while securing fax communications.
Option 2: Move to Secure File Transfer
The Department of Health has recommended that the NHS switch to a secure email solution. They need an application that can securely transfer files while helping them comply with regulations. The good news is that they’ve already started implementing one.
The National Artificial Eye Service (NAES), a body of the NHS, is currently piloting XM SendSecure in order to enable the easy but compliant transfer of confidential documents. In particular, the NAES needs a solution to ensure secure transmission of patient data inside and outside of the organization. With a database of 48,000+ patients, the NAES needed a way to send larger files that was easy to use for the sender and the recipient, all while maintaining a high level of security.
Advance Your Communications Infrastructure
The NHS must evolve and take an electronic turn into the modern age while also safeguarding the confidentiality of patient information at all costs. Deciding which solution to turn to must be done cautiously, but secure high-quality options exist.
To learn more about our secure file exchange solutions, please contact us to speak with our experts.