By Kayla Matthews, Productivity Bytes
While other industries have progressed by sending information through more updated methods, the healthcare sector is still heavily reliant on faxing.
However, even with faxing, some healthcare professionals and brands have evolved to include a newer method: cloud faxing.
What Is Cloud Faxing?
People refer to cloud faxing using a variety of related terms, including internet faxing, online faxing and email-based faxing. Cloud faxing is an option for transmitting data digitally rather than dealing with paperwork and physical fax machines. As long as an organization has an internet connection and an active account with a cloud faxing provider, they can benefit from cloud faxing.
If a person knows how to send an email, cloud faxing should quickly become second nature to them. Some cloud faxing companies even sell products that directly integrate with email programs. Others allow having multiple fax numbers with one account, which is helpful when a hospital needs to fax or receive things from different departments, for example.
The Process Of Cloud Faxing Is More Familiar To Younger Generations
One reason why more healthcare providers are embracing cloud faxing is because it mimics sending email. There was a time when all businesses had on-site fax machines, and most people knew how to use them. However, that's no longer the case. Some millennial medical students find fax machines baffling because they've never seen or interacted with one before working in hospitals.
Beyond the challenges of learning how to work a traditional fax machine, people who haven't used one before may be especially overwhelmed if they encounter problems and need to troubleshoot them. Even doing as something as seemingly straightforward, like replacing the ink or toner cartridge in a machine, could prove daunting due to unfamiliarity.
If healthcare providers realize that cloud faxing offers all the benefits of conventional faxing and more, they may decide that's it's altogether better to do things the digital way.
HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Faxing Services Are Available
Health care providers must follow privacy laws established by the countries in which they treat patients. For example, in the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) enforces how people must protect patient health data. It encompasses matters such as how to treat data in transit or at rest and keep it safe with the latest cybersecurity strategies.
HIPAA compliance is a major responsibility for any healthcare facility. However, cloud faxing can make it more manageable. For example, most cloud faxing companies encrypt and password-protect the content associated with the fax portal, and those two characteristics adhere to some of the stipulations spelled out in HIPAA.
It's crucial for healthcare providers to research all their cloud faxing options and ensure that they choose HIPAA-compliant choices. But they don't need to assume the privacy laws connected to their line of work would not allow using cloud fax services. The leading providers understand how reliant the medical industry is on sending faxes. They have built their products with that in mind and have not overlooked what HIPAA requires.
Cloud Faxing Can Reduce Misdirected Content
Human error can trigger many security shortcomings. For example, most people have dialed the wrong numbers on phones and mumbled embarrassed apologies to the individuals on the other end after realizing their blunders. However, considering that healthcare providers typically use fax machines to transmit medical details, it's easy to imagine what could go wrong if someone sends content to the incorrect fax number.
That issue happens more often than healthcare providers may want to admit. In Australia, a man spoke to the press on the condition of anonymity to say he'd received at least 10 medical referrals over two years due to a medical clinic transmitting the details to his fax number by accident. In another case that involved a lawsuit, a hospital in the U.S. sent medical documents to a marketing firm instead of the intended recipient for at least a year.
Physical fax machines have logs that let people verify that a fax went through, plus check which fax number received it. However, such data is not always easy to access. Cloud faxing keeps an updated log of fax activity. Some also let people save steps when faxing material to a number that they use often. That way, there is no need to manually input the numerical string and risk making mistakes.
Cloud Faxing Streamlines Common Healthcare Workflows
Efficiency is crucial in the healthcare sector, particularly because the people working in the field so frequently deal with life or death situations.
Many medical centers have multiple systems that are not always compatible. That lack of interoperability poses problems that cloud faxing could solve. Radiology reports, referrals and prior authorizations are some examples of healthcare content that may get held up in everyday workflows.
Another aspect of cloud faxing that speeds up information transmissions is the fact that people can send and receive faxes on multiple platforms.
For example, they might initially use a desktop computer by logging into the cloud fax service's portal but later check for a recently received fax by launching a smartphone app. Thus, cloud faxing does not require a person to be in a specific location to either send or receive faxes securely.
Bringing Medical Communications Into The Future
Traditional faxes are not obsolete in the healthcare community, but providers are increasingly seeking solutions that allow them to transmit or receive information through methods that are closer to widely used solutions, such as email.
Cloud faxing meets a need without sacrificing the security of patient data.
About The Author
Kayla Matthews is a MedTech writer whose work has appeared on HIT Consultant, Medical Economics and HITECH Answers, among other industry publications. To read more from Kayla, please connect with her on LinkedIn, or visit her personal tech blog at https://productivitybytes.com.