Editor’s note: This article, ‘”Can I fax it to you?’, the doctor’s office said”, is part of our “Human Side of Healthcare” series. As digital health technology professionals, we are obsessively focused on the patient experience. We offer these articles as a reminder to ourselves and others that what we do is about patients. You can read other posts in this series here.
“Can I fax it to you?“, the doctor’s office said!
This was from the receptionist in a pediatrician’s office as I asked to send over test results.
“You want me to do what?” I asked.
“Do you have a fax?” she asked.
“No. I haven’t had a fax in years. Can you email it to me, please?“
“No, we don’t email” she said, her voice flat, without any hint of irony.
I responded, starting to get frustrated now, “You don’t? Why not?“
“We’re not set up for email. And it’s against HIPPA laws.“
Fax it to me? Hello, 1987 called, they want their technology back.
Clearly this conversation was not a dream. I then had to call my local FedEx Office, get their fax number, give it to the doctor’s office, then go to said FedEx and wait until the fax arrived.
Clearly this is not a good patient experience!
But it gets worse. The story continues as I try to share the results of a sleep test my son had.
When I looked at the fax, it was barely readable, as it was multiple generations removed from the original… and now I had to fax it out again?
Long story short, two doctors disagreed on the result and recommended I have the sleep study reviewed by yet another doctor.
After much Googling, I found that the best pediatric sleep doctor was about 50 miles away at a major university hospital.
So I called. After half a dozen “press one for X”, “press two for Y” prompts, (you get it, I know), I reached the scheduling center. I told them the story of dueling opinions, and they kindly put me through to the actual doctor’s office. I explained the situation and told them I wanted to have the doctor review my son’s sleep study.
Question: How many of you know what’s coming next?
If you said, they asked me to “Fax them the sleep study”, you guessed right (yup, they said they had no email either). Long story short, I faxed it to them (via FedEx again), then followed up the next day and asked if they received it.
Here is a quote from them when I asked if they could even read the fax:
“Well, it’s ok, I can read this, I think. The numbers I see, but let me see, the report says, I think it says…“
Full stop. I began thinking that this was not going to be read correctly and my son is going to be misdiagnosed. This is a major university hospital, in a major city that I am having this conversation with… in 2018!
THE MORAL OF THE STORY?
A document that has been faxed over and over again has the potential for a disastrous outcome for the patient. I have been through this before. Some doctors will actually email things. Some won’t. Some blame HIPPA for the issue. Others state they don’t have the technology to email. (They aren’t digital yet? Seriously?)
We have made so many amazing advances in healthcare. Technology is being used in incredible and ingenious ways. However…
It’s time for a revolution in creating a better patient experience in 2019. Many organizations have done successful technology projects and are able to deliver on the promise of enhancing the patient experience.
But we, as an industry, where technology supports patient experience, aren’t quite there yet and we have much work to do. Many other industries have been more innovative and have adapted digital technologies.
It’s time to come together and make a difference.
ABOUT AAJ TECHNOLOGIES:
AAJ Technologies singular obsession is building digital technologies that drive incredible patient and customer experiences for our clients. We specialize in helping the healthcare industry – providers, payers, and healthcare software vendors, focus on providing incredible patient and customer experiences. Contact us today for a short discovery meeting.
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