Rage against the (fax) machine…


In an earlier commentary, I decried the reluctance of New Brunswick pharmacists to accept computer-generated fax prescriptions, thereby hobbling one of the more attractive features of many of the better EMR software packages on the market.  I must confess that, since making those comments,  it has been suggested to me that the problem lies not with the pharmacists or their association, but with the New Brunswick Pharmacy Act.    It might actually require an amendment of the Act to move things forward.   I’m not holding my breath.   With an election less than a year away, I doubt there would be much interest on the part of the government to expend any energy making life easier for medical professionals.  

I could be wrong, but I doubt it.  

It would seem that, for the time being, we are stuck with the fax.

Don’t get me wrong.   I think the fax machine currently in use by our hospitals, pharmacies, and doctors’ offices is a wonderful piece of early to mid-twentieth century technology, right up there with the Wham-O Hula Hoop and X-Ray Specs, and deserves a revered spot in a Museum of Technology somewhere.  

However, its time has passed.   Time to move on.

Kevin Pho, in his fascinating blog “KevinMD.com” recently published an opinion piece by medical student Jason Theobald, who puts forth a very convincing argument that our institutionalized love affair with the fax is wasting valuable human resources, causing needless duplication of expensive diagnostic tests, and potentially harming patients by causing unnecessary delays in accessing information needed to arrive at a diagnosis.  I think you will find he has some very valid and practical points.


I’m convinced.

How about you?

As a sidebar, the concept of transmission of facsimile images has been around for longer than you might have suspected.   Scotsman Alexander Bain  patented the idea of sending images by wire in 1843, more than three decades before Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.   A summary of the development of fax technology may be found here:



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