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After the fax

17 Jan 2017

Dear Editor,

I believe there is a small storm on the way for fax communications at medical centres around the country.

Now that the NBN has moved to a mixed technology to complete the country's internet, and the decommissioning of all but the last intervals of the old copper network is still going ahead, faxes will have to eventually be transmitted over internet protocol, or "VOIP".

NBN Co. have openly admitted that the compression used in fax protocol is not compatible with VDSL internet, and they cannot guarantee reliability. 

At our pharmacy, we've been attempting faxes over VOIP for more than a year, and I can certainly vouch for it being a very ‘black art’. I believe many surgeries across the country will get a shock when their old (or new) fax machines ‘fail to proceed’ over their new, virtual, phone lines.

In our discussions with medical centres who are having trouble getting faxes through to us, the suggestion of using plain, old email to get prescription images to us is mostly met with flat refusals. Excuses range from email being insecure (despite the public key infrastructure encrypting the entire internet since its inception) to just not being willing or able.

I think a recommendation from a society like yours for practices to equip themselves with common flatbed scanners and reception email accounts, well before it becomes a necessity, will prevent many future administrative problems and even some medical misadventures.

Stephen McPhee

Ettalong Pharmacy, NSW


Published: 17 Jan 2017