Millennials don't always know how to use fax machines, which are still widely used in healthcare

While fax machines and pagers have nearly disappeared from every other industry, these technologies of yore are still prominent in healthcare — and they often leave millennials clueless, according to CNBC.

About a dozen medical students told CNBC they hadn't seen a fax machine until their first day of medical training.

So why is healthcare still using these outdated technologies? Part of it lends to tradition, with older physicians opting for the devices they feel most comfortable with. Fax machines and pagers are also considered a safe, secure mode of communication under HIPAA laws.

"Every hospital, no matter how small, has a fax machine, so it's the safest and easiest way to get the information you need," Nate Gross, MD, the co-founder of Doximity, told CNBC. Dr. Gross' startup has developed a product called DocFax that lets physicians send faxes without a physical fax machine. However, he said, "It will take another decade or two before healthcare is no longer reliant on the fax machine."

This concerns many young doctors, who not only don't know how to use the aging tech, but question its security. Medical offices that regularly fax information are often only open for a few hours, and information can arrive in bits and pieces with no confirmation passersby haven't sneaked a peak.

Moreover, electronic sharing poses another barrier, with not all EHRs able to communicate with one another. When physicians need to transfer data from one hospital to another, both must operate on the same EHR for a seamless transfer of data. 

Harvard Medical School student Jordan Anderson told CNBC time is one of his top concerns. Mr. Anderson explained it took four hours to fulfill a patient's records request in the middle of the night. These kinds of delays leave physicians without patients' past medical notes, charts, procedures or test results and can lead to costly, duplicative tests.

While some EHR vendors, like Epic, have developed interoperability solutions, they are limited to only Epic clients. Other companies, like Apple, are attempting to put patients' medical records on their iPhones.

"Clearly the technology exists to allow us to have access to another hospital's medical record system and just search for the thing we need," said Mr. Anderson.

More articles on health IT:
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20 hospitals, health systems seeking Allscripts, Cerner, Epic, Meditech talent

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