For the most part, using the latest and greatest technology is a good idea. Twenty years ago, for example, having a fax machine in your office meant you were on the cutting edge. Today, however, most attorneys rely on scanners and email as their preferred means of transmitting documents.
But are fax machines a thing of the past? At the recent Academy Summit in Boston, an attorney asked me why we bother providing fax access to his clients’ advance directives when we also make them available on the Internet through our website.
Turns out that at most hospitals, the fax machine is still the electronic device of choice. We surveyed the hospital staff that called us to get patients’ advance directives via fax (as opposed to obtaining them from our website) and found that just over 50 percent couldn’t access the documents online. Why? Either they didn’t have an Internet connection at their workstation, or they didn’t have Internet privileges — no doubt the hospital’s way of preventing staff from going on Facebook or surfing the web in their downtime. (Doctors’ offices, on the other hand, use the Web over the fax to get documents from us by a 2:1 margin.) So for hospitals, at least, the fax machine is a fixture — for now!
Randi J. Siegel, MBA, is the President of DocuBank, the largest advance directive registry in the U.S., which ensures that the healthcare directives of its 175,000 enrollees are immediately available 24/7/365. Working with estate planning professionals since 1997, Randi frequently speaks at national estate planning conferences and has appeared on radio and television as an authority on registries. She is active in health policy pertaining to advance directives and serves as a Senior Fellow at the Jefferson School of Population Health in Philadelphia. Randi is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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