Although the first fax was sent over 170 years ago, fax still remains critical to many document-centric workflows such as delivering quotes, invoices, and medical billing.
Remaining one of the most reliable and secure methods of document delivery, fax has continued to surprise digital researchers, including the Washington Post’s Jonathan Coppersmith.
Read below to learn why fax has continued to grow in popularity and where the future of fax is headed.
The fax machine is a symbol ofobsolete technologylong superseded by computer networks — but faxing is actually growing in popularity.
Four years ago, I wrote ahistory of 160 years of faxing, saying my book covered “the rise and fall of the fax machine.” The end I predicted has not yet come: Millions of people, businesses and community groups send millions of faxed pages every day, from stand-alone fax machines, multifunction printers and computer-based fax services. It turns out that in many cases, faxing is more secure, easier to use and better suited to existing work habits than computer-based messaging.
Faxing remains alive and well, especially inJapanand Germany— and in major sectors of the U.S. economy, such as health care and financial services. Countless emails flash back and forth, but millions of faxes travel the world daily, too. Even parts of the federal government preferred faxes over email for many years thereafter. Not until 2010 did the Drug Enforcement Administration allow electronic signatures for Schedule II drugs such as Ritalin and opiates, about 10 percent of all prescriptions. That meant a pharmacist could accept a faxed prescription but not one scanned and sent by email.
Another reason faxing hangs on is because competing technologies are weak. The health-care industry generates huge amounts of data for each patient. That should make it fertile ground for a fully digital record-keeping system, “where data can flow easilybetween patient, provider, caregivers, researchers, innovators and payers,” said Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a recent speech.