Summary of NCCP Workshop “A World without Faxes: Will Healthcare come to a stop?”

The NCCP Electronic Cancer Referral Project Board hosted a workshop on “A World without Faxes: Will Healthcare come to a stop” on Wednesday 16th May 2018.  The purpose was to encourage the use of NCCP Electronic Cancer Referral to the designated cancer centres by GPs.  It was also to provide background on the recent HSE patient Safety Alert 00117 on the use of faxes within healthcare.

Currently 58% of all breast, prostate and lung cancer referrals are sent electronically. The recent Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 recommends that “the HSE will ensure that cancer referrals from a GP into a hospital will be made electronically. Each Hospital Group will facilitate the phasing in of e-referral and this will be completed by the end of 2022.”

The recent HSE Patient Safety Alert (0117) has advised that we consider the use of an alternate and more reliable means of communication than fax. The purpose of the workshop was to explore solutions on how to move away from the use of faxes.

The agenda included presentations by the following:

  • Welcome by Dr Triona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health, NCCP
  • Electronic GP Referral Trends, Mr Greg Johnston,  Ereferrals Project Manager,  Office of the Chief Information Officer, HSE
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Update, Ms Marie Lalor, Operations Manager, Healthlink
  • Lessons Learned from 8 years of electronic cancer GP referral, Ms Eileen Nolan, Programme Manager NCCP
  • HSE Patient Safety Alert 0117, Ms Cornelia Stuart, Assistant National Director, Quality Risk and Safety, Quality Assurance and Verification Division, HSE
  •  Lessons from Healthmail, Ms Karina Hull, Healthmail Operation Manager, Healthmail
  • Question and Answer session on the Experience of going fax less at Tallaght University Hospital:  Lessons Learned 6 months on! With Ms Ann Creaven,  Out Patient Services Manager, AMNCH 
  • Interactive session:  Where do we go from here?
  • Summary, Ms Marie Lalor, Operations Manager, Healthlink

A world without faxesLast updated: 10th December 2018

Speakers left to right: Ms Marie Lalor, Healthlink, Ms Cornelia Stuart, Quality Risk and Safety, Quality Assurance and Verification Division, HSE; Ms Anne Creaven, AMNCH, Mr Gregory Johnston, OCiO, Ms Karina Hull, Healthmail, Ms Eileen Nolan, NCCP

Key Lessons Learnt from Workshop:

Attendees found the workshop useful in highlighting the importance of the following actions when planning to move away from the use of fax machines within a hospital or clinic:

  1. Conduct an audit on the use of faxes within your organisation, incoming and outgoing  
  2. The importance of consulting with telephony and IT departments, in each hospital
  3. To consult with your organisation’s GP Liaison Committee           
  4. To avoid commencing the elimination of faxes project near/during holiday periods         
  5. To involve your organisations Quality/Risk department when planning to turn off faxes
  6. To have a minimum 2 month lead time to communicate with relevant stakeholders about plans to turn off fax machines            
  7. To encourage your referring GPs who currently send faxed referrals to send electronic referrals              
  8. To raise awareness on the HSE protocol regarding safe use of faxes and recent HSE patient safety alert 0117: e.g. it is mandatory to confirm that each fax have been received with the sender         
  9. To raise awareness within your organisation that GPs, pharmacies and nursing homes may email them securely using Healthmail ( )
  10. To arrange systems based on department email addresses, which can send and receive email securely from Healthmail users in the community