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Don’t “Axe the fax”

The ROI opportunity for the National Health Service

The UK National Health Service (NHS) made the news in 2018 for its continued reliance on traditional fax machines, with over 8,000 spread across NHS Trusts. The UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, responded by mandating a complete ban on fax machine purchases starting January 2019, with a deadline to eliminate them totally by March 31st, 2020.

Why fax refuses to be axed

The NHS has missed the deadline and was likely to do so even before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. As of Oct 2019, only about 42% of fax machines had been eliminated.

Honestly, fax machines are awful. But fax as a communications medium is still very powerful and secure. It has built an essential network across the NHS – and other healthcare institutions – over decades. Dropping fax requires everyone to stop using it at once, and then retraining the entire healthcare system, office by office. It’s not as simple as throwing away machines.

Our biggest challenge has been getting rid of fax machines that are used to communicate externally. Lots of outside organizations rely on fax machines to communicate with us, and some of them still heavily depend on paper-based solutions where they are yet to start their digital maturity journey

Sarah Moorhead, Associate Director of Digital Demand, Leeds Teaching Hospitals

Dropping fax requires everyone stopping at once and then retraining the entire healthcare system, office by office. It’s not as simple as throwing away machines. Something has to step into their place and the NHS has to remain functional through the transition.

While several options exist, the surprising truth is that the best solution may be to replace fax with better fax.

The problems with replacements

A wide variety of solutions exist and have been proposed for solving the NHS’s fax problem. However, each Trust is independent and while the Health Secretary’s mandate tells them what they have to get rid of, it doesn’t dictate what they implement.

Email is not secure

The obvious replacement would be email. Everyone can receive email, making it an ideal choice for patients, partners, other NHS Trusts, government agencies, and even international health services.

However, there is a deal-breaker – email is terribly insecure.

Security was not a consideration in the design of core email systems that have now proliferated too widely to be redone. As a result, the world has been left with something closer to a postcard than an armored car.

Encrypted email and portals are cumbersome

Both email encryption and secure portal solutions trade ease of use or universal access for security. Recipients often have to create accounts and remember extra-complicated passwords for a solution they rarely use. Employees can be trained in their nuances, but for outside organizations such solutions may create more problems than they solve.

While secure file exchange solutions that are easy to use are the future, if your organization’s not ready for that yet, there’s another option that’s efficient, secure, and cost effective, yet remarkably simple.

Refine the fax with a digital alternative

While several options exist, the surprising truth is that the best solution may be to replace fax with better fax.

The “Axe the Fax” campaign is not about getting rid of fax, but getting rid of fax machines, making enterprise Fax over IP (FoIP) the obvious replacement technology.

Digital fax allows everyone in the NHS ecosystem to shift at their own pace. When Hospital A implements FoIP, they reduce costs, streamline workflows, and increase security…while still being able to talk to Clinic B, who hasn’t switched yet. Receiving and sending faxes becomes possible on computers, so fax can conform to your workflow rather than the other way around.

OpenText XM Fax

OpenText™ XM Fax™ is the perfect answer for the NHS Axe the Fax campaign. It allows Trusts to fax however and whenever they want via workstations, mobile devices and multi-function printers (MFPs).

XM Fax can be hosted on-premises or in an EU cloud (certified Cyber Essentials, PCI DSS, and ISO/IEC 27001:2013). The solution delivers excellent security and facilitates GDPR compliance via direct-to-recipient delivery, a zero-retention feature, and centralized event logs.

See it in action

To help you decide if XM Fax is the right solution for your Trust, OpenText offers 14-day free trials, personalized demos and consultations. Reach out to us to learn more.

Speak to an expert.

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Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is a Senior Product Marketing Specialist covering fax and secure messaging solutions in the OpenText Digital Experience portfolio. He has been supporting B2B and B2C marketing for more than 11 years with work ranging from ingredients sold to some of the world’s top restaurants, to stock market deep learning algorithms, to the enterprise communications sector.

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