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NHS still reliant on ‘archaic’ fax machines

Hospitals are still reliant on “archaic” fax machines with thousands still in use, a survey shows.
Senior doctors said the continued use of the outdated technology was “ludicrous”, and modern forms of communication were urgently needed.
The poll, by the Royal College of Surgeons using freedom of information laws, revealed nearly 9,000 fax machines were in use across England.
Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust topped the list, relying on 603 machines.
“Alongside innovation like artificial intelligence and robot-assisted surgery, NHS hospital trusts remain stubbornly attached to using archaic fax machines for a significant proportion of their communications. This is ludicrous,” said Richard Kerr, chair of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Commission on the Future of Surgery.
“The NHS cannot continue to rely on a technology most other organisations scrapped in the early 2000s,” he added.
Three-quarters of the trusts in England replied to the survey* – 95 in total. Barts Trust, England’s biggest trust, uses 369 machines. Ten trusts said that they did not own any fax machines, but four in ten reported more than 100 in use.
The survey follows a report last year by artificial intelligence company DeepMind Health which named the NHS as the world’s largest purchaser of fax machines.
Separate figures last year showed that the NHS is also heavily reliant on pagers. The report, by digital company CommonTime, said there were around 130,000 pagers in use at annual cost of £6.6m. The report emphasised that pagers were not only costly, but also limited, as they do not support two-way communication.
Faced with old-fashioned technology, DeepMind Health found that frustrated doctors had taken matters into their own hands and were using non-sanctioned apps like SnapChat and WhatsApp to communicate patient information.
Health apps to inform patient records
Use of WhatsApp in NHS ‘widespread’
NHS trust scraps faxing of patient data
The NHS has been slow to take on board the digital revolution. Back in 2013 then health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who left the department this week, said he wanted the health service to be paperless by 2018.

Source: BBC
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