A recent press release by NHS, from July 2018, revealed that hospitals still own and use 8,209 fax machines. Even though healthcare facilities around the world are adopting novel AI technology, it seems they still do now wish to give up fax machines.
In fact, the majority of them are still using fax machines: a 2017 survey by TigerConnect revealed the number is surprisingly high: 89% of healthcare organisations are using fax machines. Speaking of obsolete technology, 39% of those organisations admit they are still using pagers.
The healthcare industry isn’t the only one still using faxing—finance and financial services, manufacturing and the government send and receive faxes regularly according to the IDC analysis from 2017.
Why is faxing so hard to move away from?
Fax machines often seem to be the only connection between otherwise incompatible systems. This is especially prevalent in the medical field, where some organisations support emailing patient medical records and having them in the digital format, while others rely on paper records and faxing as their preferred method of sending patient information.
The medicinal field must adhere to HIPAA regulations and to stay compliant, they prefer to stick to fax machines because they are often unaware that there are other options that are compliant too.
Faxing makes it hard to intercept and manipulate data. This popular argument to keep a physical fax machine relies on the fact that being an isolated system, they are a safer alternative to email.
With cybersecurity becoming increasingly complex and cyberattacks more sophisticated, many companies decide to stick to a fax machine to try to reduce their cyber risk.
Many offices argue that keeping a fax machine saves money because it’s cheaper than updating to newer technology. The truth is that they are simply refusing to get out of their comfort zone and embrace newer technologies. Fax machines are what they know and they know how to use them.
The fax machine is far from the golden standard
Fax machines are not a bulletproof system.
All it takes is a simple human error—calling the wrong number—and you will either fail to send a fax or send sensitive information to the wrong recipient. In an era of increasingly strict data privacy regulations, this is a recipe for disaster.
For comparison, the right information security policy and authentication makes it impossible for the wrong recipient to even view the data that was sent their way since they don’t have the right credentials to view it.
Their disjointed nature, which many argue makes them safer, also means a lack of overview in terms of data control (what is being sent, who has access to it, who can forward it) and data processing.
This leaves companies open to regulation breaches, as well as lower quality of their data analytics, as not all of the data can be processed digitally.
Physical fax machines present a security risk and organisations that are still using them should have a well defined corporate fax policy that includes measures and best practices on sending and receiving faxes this way.
The four regulations that most heavily affect companies using fax machines and require compliance are:
- GDPR Compliance – Disclosing sensitive information to anyone who it’s not intended for, no matter whether it was on purpose or by accident, is deemed a breach of GDPR, so a misdial on a fax machine could lead to extremely high fines.
- HIPAA Compliance – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is the standard all healthcare organisations must comply with to ensure health information that is being transferred in electronic form remains protected. Fax machines can be HIPAA compliant, but the slightest error can be ruled as non-compliance.
- GLBA Compliance – The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act regulates how financial institutions protect and share private information from their customers.
- SOX Compliance – the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) regulates public company financial reporting and security of all their communication, documents and other correspondence.
Many organisations are using a single centralized machine, and faxes that are sent and received are left unattended. In such a scenario, it’s easy for anyone who is passing by the machine to read them, effectively breaching most of the regulations above.
Fax machines often do not have the means to update their security certificates, either, so with a rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape, fax machines are struggling to keep up.
There is an alternative, however—online faxing.
Keeping faxing alive and embracing digitization is possible
There was an anonymous poll in the Spiceworks community back in 2017 about the usage of fax machines in business settings. The sample of 1,513 votes revealed that 62% are still using physical fax devices, while 15% had fax servers, 13% had a service for electronic faxing, and only 11% didn’t use faxing at all.
The poll results indicate that faxing is alive and well, with the most traditional way, the faxing machine, still being the preferred choice, but a clear indication that a good chunk of businesses are switching to the modern version of fax services that are connected to the cloud and can be used for valuable business insights.
Faxing is still experiencing growth—while fax machines are being phased out, online fax services are replacing the obsolete machines.
The chart above demonstrates that the main factors affecting growth are the adoption of online faxing services, organisation growth and integration with ERP systems.
In fact, even the NHS, that has been using over 8,000 fax machines, was instructed to stop.
Matt Hancock, the UK Healthcare Secretary, instigated an organisation-wide ban on purchasing new fax machine after January 2019 will ensure all NHS organisations comply with the decision. In addition, they were also instructed that all fax machines must be shut off completely by the end of March 2020.
Online fax services bring faxing up-to-date with modern standards
Instead of relying on physical machines, organisations are switching to online faxing. iFaxApp helps keep organisations secure through full compliance with all regulations that affect faxing.
Full TLS encryption of all the connections you dial for sending faxes ensures they can’t be accessed by someone with malicious intent. If the recipient can’t ensure security on their end, faxes will not be delivered to avoid the risk of a data breach.
Integration options help consolidate all documents and data sent and received via iFaxApp in a secure location, be it on-premise or in the cloud.
Access to faxed documents is easy thanks to the service being available on PC and mobile too, and you can access documents any time you need.
You won’t have to worry about having a telephone line and maintenance costs of your fax machine anymore—iFaxApp is always up to date, with customer support at your disposal around the clock to help you in case you encounter issues or have a question.
With iFaxApp, you won’t have to wait or worry about busy signals, and you can send faxes to anyone with online fax options, to email, or even physical fax machines.
There is no doubt that faxing is here to stay. But the way faxing is done can be brought up to date.
The iFaxApp is a convenient solution for individuals and business. It’s available over as a web app, and on all popular platforms: iOS, Android, Windows and macOS.
iFaxapp will keep all data safe and ensure your business stays compliant while eliminating the need to deal with vast amounts of papers, lack of data consolidation, and associated costs.