Thank you to our fax partner Advantage Technology for this guest blog on the dominance of fax in the healthcare sector and how security, reliability, and interoperability/easy integration lead the way in making a success.
Hospitals, ambulatory practices and other healthcare providers are increasing the amount of care they provide through Telehealth methods. While this can streamline care for patients, saving them from traveling long distances or risk dangerous exposure by leaving their homes, Telehealth can also create communication headaches for practices whose employees may be working from home and who still need to fax patient information to pharmacies, hospitals and other care givers. But when it comes to nuts-and-bolts communication – like sending a referral for a patient to see a specialist or a prescription form to a pharmacy – fax remains the industry favorite.
The answers are a bit complicated, ranging from regulation to market forces to convenience, and more. But here are three overarching themes, and some thoughts on why new Internet protocol technologies are solidifying the dominance of fax in the healthcare setting.
SecurityTop-of-mind for anyone working in the healthcare field is privacy and security of information, especially as it’s passed from one person or entity to another. HIPAA regulations apply to technology too, and many forms of communication fail to meet that high standard, or they require significant IT investment to assure compliance. Real-time T.38 IP fax meets HIPAA compliance because it transmits data directly and in real-time without any “middlemen” devices to store and transfer data along the way. The message moves directly from sending to receiving fax devices. That’s critical to data security, because the more intermediary devices on the pathway, the greater susceptibility to a breach. Real-time transmission means you have accurate evidence the fax has reached its destination safely. And, with T.38 IP fax, no Business Associates agreement (BAA) is necessary since the service provider has no access to the data.
ReliabilityDowntime and performance issues caused by an outdated faxing infrastructure can hamper your healthcare organization and result in reductions in revenue and overall patient care. A patient’s well-being could depend on it. That’s why providers continue to rely on faxing – and especially IP fax. Real-time T.38 IP faxing sends data via internet lines reliably, with page by page confirmations. And because the information goes directly from sender server to recipient server, there’s no chance of loss or delay. The page-by-page confirmation you receive is 100 percent true and accurate. In addition, IP fax encryption protects against hacking and tampering, achieving the high privacy and security standards medical practices require.
Interoperability and Easy Integration
All fax systems use a common standard, allowing them to communicate seamlessly with one another, regardless of brand or version. IP fax systems, likewise, use Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) protocol designed for message transmission across IP networks. That standards-based, technology-agnostic design allows IP fax systems to integrate smoothly with the sender’s and recipient’s electronic health record (EHR) systems, as well as other data management applications.
For these reasons and more, faxing addresses common pain points healthcare offices face in their day-to-day communications. Other communication tools have their place, but real-time T.38 IP fax melds the time-tested benefits of faxing with the speed and security internet transmission affords.