Last December, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) announced the immediate halt on fax machine purchases within the agency. As of April, 2020, the machines will be completely eradicated from their offices. Considering that faxing continues to be used across the globe largely because it is considered to be a secure form of communication, you might have some concerns as the health care industry pursues other ways to transmit your most personal health data. Here is some information to help put your mind at ease.

Fax Machines are Not the Only Secure Option

U.S. government agencies consider faxing to be one of few allowable methods for transmitting sensitive data. Still, these agencies currently make no distinction between machine-based or online faxing. The NHS seems to be leaning toward the use of NHS Mail, which they consider to be a quicker and more secure alternative for medical providers, but they might also contemplate using the Cloud as an alternative to the outdated machines.

Many secure online faxing alternatives are available right now. They are efficient to use, and they offer digital storage so that users can keep their faxes well-organized and easy to find when needed. From a security standpoint, most fax providers use robust encryption systems that help guard the safety of sensitive medical records. As an added benefit, faxes go directly to intended recipients. No paper-pickup is necessary.

Everyone Should Understand the Security Basics

To ensure maximum security, the NHS basically governs both ends of medical information transmittal. However, anyone who uses computers or smart phones — or those who rely on others who transmit their data online — should become familiar with basic cybersecurity information. It’s probably not an overstatement to say that all people will have to transmit their secrets at some time in their lives, even if they operate outside of the medical field. No one should take security for granted. 

There are actually three sides to every transmission: in addition to the sender and the recipient, information can be susceptible to hacking while it is in transit. The individuals who own the data typically face the most harm, so they need to take ultimate responsibility for ensuring a strong security system.

Naturally, the first step involves checking into the security system of the recipient before sending a single byte of data. Equally important, however, is to address security on their own devices, which need to be equipped with a reliable anti-virus system. That software needs to be updated regularly to guarantee that it is current, and virus definitions should be updated daily. Add regular device scans to the mix — and make sure that the network is secure (hint: avoid public WiFi) — and the transmissions can be considered as secure as possible in an ever-changing security environment.

Fax Usage Remains Surprisingly Popular

While the NHS recognizes fax machines as outdated technology, the fax concept remains popular, largely thanks to the new online options. Particularly if you travel outside of the UK, you may need to rely on faxing if your health or other sensitive information needs to be transmitted in a hurry.

Faxing remains highly popular in certain countries, such as Japan and Germany. In fact, some recent reports indicate that it remains regularly in use by about 82 percent of employees within large companies across the globe. This does not mean, however, that faxing needs to remain a dinosaur. The new online options have made it a reliable 21st century technology.