Which Industries Still Rely on Fax Machines?

While it might seem antiquated, fax is still the preferred method for medical communication in the United States. Even though modern electronic communication is faster, cheaper, and generally better (how many times have you seen a jammed fax machine or a faxed paper that gets torn or shows up blank?), most medical centers still have all of their old records on paper. To his credit, President Barack Obama got the U.S. government to spend $30 billion USD to make doctor's offices and hospitals go digital, and in one respect, it was a great success -- by 2015, 83 percent of all hospitals were keeping records digitally. The problem, however, is sharing. Faxing the documents still seems to be the best way for medical departments to send records back and forth.

Just the "fax":

  • The earliest version of the fax machine was developed in the 1840s by Scottish inventor Alexander Bain, who received a British patent for his "Electric Printing Telegraph."

  • In the 1920s, it took six minutes to send a single page by fax; today, it takes 1.7 seconds.

  • There were 30,000 fax machines in the United States in 1970; as of 2018, approximately 18 million fax machines are in use.

More Info: Vox

Discussion Comments


A computer and internet hookup are affordable and in most towns. How is that driving physicians to quit their jobs? Hometown doctors do not make enough money to repay their medical school loans and therefore cannot take the lower paying jobs. It is not due to requesting that they go digital. It is because the compensation is not sufficient.


Intertesting! To President Obama's un-credit, demanding physicians to go electronic also drove away home town doctors who practiced the old fashioned way. Some of these doctors charged such reasonable prices, insurance claims weren't even necessary because Americans could afford to go to the doctor and pay out of pocket. These precious docs could not afford to comply with changing their records to electronic and had to close their doors.

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