Each month, Indiana business owner Bill Keith receives over 150 faxes. Each one contains confidential patient records, but Keith is not even in the medical business!
According to WBIR TV in Knoxville, Tennessee:
Bill Keith, owner of SunRise Solar Inc. in Indiana, has been receiving hundreds of confidential medical faxes from doctors’ offices and other medical providers in Tennessee for three years.
Keith was, on Monday, still receiving patient information meant for the Tennessee Department of Human Services in Nashville. Keith has tried to correct the problem with the state and doctors’ offices but to no avail.
On Friday, state officials blamed doctors’ offices, saying that the toll-free fax numbers for Keith’s business and the state nearly match. But Monday, Mowery Johnson said the state was taking some responsibility for the problem, which stemmed from a typing error.
It’s tough to know where to begin in discussing this story. Should we blame government incompetence, which has been unable to correct a typo for three years? Should SunRise Solar have simply disconnected their fax machine? Or is this really more evidence that we need to move to electronic medical records and leave the messy world of paper behind?
No matter what the solution, we should look back to the original problems: processes for double-checking fax numbers, processes for distributing these numbers to the public, processes for correcting errors after they occur, and processes for maintaining old systems during an upgrade. None of these procedures should require high-level administrative approval or strategic analysis. They are simply a matter of stakeholders having the authority and responsibility to make changes.
Facsimile machines may not be the right technology for today, but regardless of the platform in use, the process should be rigorous, well-documented and reliable. If your organization needs help in reducing errors, talk to the process improvement experts. We help companies analyze and transform their methodologies for everyday tasks.