The nbn is coming — is your lab ready?


Monday, 10 August, 2020

The nbn is coming — is your lab ready?

As the National Broadband Network (nbn™) is rolled out, it brings the promise of enhanced productivity, reliability and digital integrations with it. But not every IT system in the laboratory is designed for smooth integration with the nbn, and systems that rely on analog phone lines and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), like fax machines and fax servers, will struggle to keep up.

Once each area has been announced for changeover to the nbn, you’ll generally have 18 months to switch over to the new network, depending on your provider. After your area has switched to the nbn, the Telstra supplied copper and cable broadband networks will be disconnected.

Why faxing is still critical to medical research

Faxing documents securely over the phone line was once seen as cutting-edge technology that allowed documents to be sent quickly and securely anywhere in the world that had a fax number.

Over time, the traditional fax machine systems have been integrated from stand-alone machines to being part of multi-function printers (MFP) and the creation of dedicated fax servers to manage the wealth of data being sent. Within the healthcare and medical research sector there’s still a critical need for faxing documents, especially when privacy laws and security concerns restrict the use of email servers and popular storage programs such as GDrive and Dropbox. When emails became more widely used in business, they quickly presented security concerns, and many industries still restrict sending unencrypted data via email.

A mishmash of systems leads to chaos and disruption

Legacy fax machines are erratic at the best of times—paper jams, dropped signals and server errors cause daily frustrations for laboratories. Patient deaths both in Australia and overseas have been attributed to the unreliability of faxes, where critical information was sent to the wrong number, wrong department or simply overlooked in busy hospital departments that share a fax machine and printer.

In the current environment, the reliance on manual fax machines has created chaos for laboratories as they struggle to cope with the unprecedented influx of faxes and trying to mix old and new data systems.

With a volume of testing results being faxed simultaneously, there are inevitable delays in processing, pages getting lost or missing in transmission, results being mixed up for different patients, and a wealth of data piling up on fax machines that needs to be processed and reported urgently.

The huge volumes of results and requests being faxed through also means that urgent requests, such as those for healthcare and aged-care workers, may be overlooked. Sending and receiving confidential health data via fax may be secure from cyber threats, but opens up risks and delays while it’s then printed, manually entered into systems or hand delivered within facilities for actioning.

How will traditional faxing be affected by the nbn?

With the nbn rollout, the future of legacy faxing systems isn’t bright. Existing analog phone lines will be disconnected, causing issues for fax machines that rely on these lines. Dedicated phone/fax numbers (and the associated costs) will be required to send and receive faxes. With the increasing volume of data being sent via fax, VoIP systems will struggle to keep up and ICT teams will need to implement a mix of old and new technology with workarounds as they struggle to keep up. And with the average fax machine and MFP having a shelf life of five years, along with the cost of set-up, maintenance and consumables, the cost and complexity of maintaining a traditional fax machine will continue to mount up.

There’s a brighter future for faxing

The rollout of the nbn is opening up opportunities to look at faxing in new ways—how can we send, receive, store and share documents securely and instantly without a fax machine?

Cloud-based faxing is a system that allows users to send and receive faxes on their existing fax number, but the faxes are stored online. Users are able to log in to the system and access, download, sign, share and send faxes securely. A fax can be sent at the touch of a button to a physical fax machine, email, personal device, phone or computer, with just a few clicks.

Because cloud faxing is online, users can send and receive multiple faxes at once, and each fax is automatically logged and traced with opens and downloads, making auditing and compliance a breeze. No matter whether you’re working in the lab or from home, you can reliably send, receive, sign and share faxes without needing a physical fax machine.

Tips for getting ready for the nbn

  • Know when the nbn is coming to your area.
  • Prepare early and find out whether you need to change landline and internet services.
  • Shop around for the best provider for your needs.
  • Get ready to switch over.
  • Switch early to eFax to avoid any issues.
  • Consider what equipment you may need to upgrade/switch.
  • Do a cost analysis of different options to evaluate your needs.

Can you rely on your current fax machine to see your laboratory through?

More than ever before, we’re seeing rapid and massive disruptions to the way we work and manage our workloads. As ICT teams grapple with complex privacy and document control requirements and try to integrate multiple systems and processes into the existing systems, it’s easy to see how cloud faxing is a logical solution to streamlining data processing within the medical testing environment. With reliability and compliance built into the systems, cloud faxing frees up ICT teams from the installation, maintenance and ongoing system upgrades that legacy faxing systems demand.

Image credit: ©

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