Where Does the Fax Machine Fit in 2023?

Once an essential tool for business, the fax machine has become a distant memory for many offices.  New government regulations along with more options for digitization have prompted a movement that could result in a goodbye to the once-revolutionary machine.

The birth of the fax machine dates back to over 180 years ago in 1843 when Alexander Bain created and patented a device that simulated a two-dimensional image, but it wasn’t until the 1980s and the acceptance of the faster and more affordable Group 3 standard fax machine, that faxing in offices and homes became widespread.  As the transmission of information evolved, communications shifted towards digitization, bringing greater connection, reliability, and sustainability.

Why have leading organizations opted for digital faxing?

Digital faxing modernizes the fax machine’s traditional process by sending and receiving an electronic formatted document rather than a paper document–making this solution more sustainable. The document can also be stored in a file on a computer hard drive or in a cloud-based environment and printed only if a hard copy is required.  Organizations can partner with an electronic fax service provider who will electronically send faxes based on the recipient’s preferred delivery method.  Faxes may be routed to a traditional fax machine and printed out as a hard copy or be in the form of an email fax that the recipient can save on his or her computer hard drive for later use, depending on how the recipient needs to receive the document.

Apprehensions surrounding digitizing

Some organizations keep traditional fax machines due to the ease of international communication and the ability to confirm receipt, and many healthcare providers fear that digitization does not provide a secure connection for transmitting sensitive patient information.  Despite evidence that “e-faxing today is becoming more and more secure,” an astonishing “70% of healthcare providers still share medical information by [paper] fax” and that’s despite access to innovative medical software built around securely capturing and consolidating electronic health records, according to an article in

The future for fax machines

Government regulations may impact how much longer fax machines are around in offices across the country–especially in the healthcare market.  The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in partnership with the White House has launched an initiative inviting private healthcare stakeholders to submit pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase their climate resilience.  With Tree-Nation reporting that annually 15 billion trees are cut down globally and only around 5 billion are planted, digitizing fax submissions for organizations like hospitals and healthcare systems that receive and process high volumes of paper can make a considerable contribution towards environmental sustainability.  The HHS also reports that the healthcare sector contributes 8.5% of total U.S. emissions, noting that these organizations have a big role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The US seems to be following in the footsteps of the Australia Digital Health Agency’s (ADHA) who began offering monetary incentives to providers who would eliminate paper-based messaging.  In an interview with Healthcare IT News,  ADHA’s Chief Executive, Tim Kelsey, shared that  “We can’t possibly imagine a world full of precision medicine when we’re communicating ubiquitously using fax machines.”

When Alexander Bain created the first fax machine, he was an amateur clockmaker.  Using combined parts from clock mechanisms together with the previously created telegraph machine, he received his British patent for the fax machine or for the “improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces and in electric printing and signal telegraphs.”  Many other inventors worked on Bain’s creation over the years–ultimately producing the widely popular hardware that was used in offices around the world.  With new solutions like digital faxing promoting greater sustainability and operability, the physical fax machine may disappear, but the goal of using available technology to facilitate communication will endure as we head towards fax evolution.

Considering a move to digital faxing? We can help. Learn more about Vyne Medical’s digital fax solutions that facilitate secure communications for healthcare and hospital systems like yours.

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