Guest Column | December 17, 2020

Why COVID-19 Is Forcing Us To Axe The Fax And Embrace Technologies Enabling Better Communication Between Providers

By Chad Peterson, Orion Health

COVID 19 New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing immense pressure across the healthcare system and has highlighted the importance of interoperability and streamlined data exchange between stakeholders. In the current healthcare environment, securely communicating data promptly is more important than ever as the nation continues to manage these unprecedented times.

In recent years, the healthcare industry has seen a significant shift to electronic communication technologies, however many healthcare organizations are still relying on obsolete technologies, such as the fax machine, as the primary method of exchanging health information. As organizations continue to respond to the global pandemic, which is forcing them to adapt at a rapid pace, they can no longer afford to lag in adopting electronic communication solutions by relying on inefficient, fax-heavy processes.

Organizations should look to embrace agile solutions, such as secure messaging – a mechanism for secure health information exchange within a trusted network – which can be implemented across organizations of varying sizes and infrastructures in a timely and cost-effective manner. Dr. James Grue, Director of Analytics, Healthcare Registries, LLC states, “Technology, such as direct secure messaging, is enabling secure, accurate and safe health data exchange while facilitating greater collaboration across the care continuum.”

Timely access to accurate data always has been considered critical in healthcare, but especially when trying to curb a pandemic. Secure messaging is scalable, sustainable, and can increase interoperability across the healthcare IT landscape by fostering collaboration and improving communication between providers, patients, and other healthcare organizations.

By embracing secure messaging, healthcare organizations can enhance the quality of patient care; increase patient engagement and satisfaction by empowering patients to become more engaged in their care plan; save costs, increase productivity, and deliver better care coordination through secure real-time exchange of data while protecting patient data; address gaps in transitions of care and support compliance with public health reporting.

Public health reporting is an essential part of the COVID-19 response and provides vital pandemic data for resource planning and decision making, including disease-related data, test results, contact tracing, community spread, and potential exposure. As the highly anticipated vaccination rollout must be monitored closely, accurate and timely public health reporting can help track who has and has not been immunized, what vaccine they may have received, any side effects, etc.

At the onset of the pandemic, many in-person medical services shut down to slow the spread of the disease. Cost-effective tools that could be implemented quickly, like secure messaging, became part of the pandemic response strategy. These tools allow organizations to communicate sensitive information quickly, which saves precious time for exhausted and overworked healthcare professionals; allows urgent and emergency notifications to be sent in real time; supports transitions of care from one provider or setting to another and enables referrals between providers and provider-patient communication so patients can be monitored from home.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the value of tools such as secure messaging has been increasingly realized, allowing them to be leveraged as part of the continued pandemic response. Organizations have been forced to take quick action and seek out nimble solutions to meet their fast-changing needs. Now is the time to axe the fax machine and embrace technologies that streamline secure data exchange and communication while supporting the ongoing response to COVID-19 and the future of the healthcare IT industry.

About The Author

Chad Peterson is a healthcare executive with two decades of experience working in the information technology and healthcare information technology industry. As VP of Public Sector Solutions for Orion Health, he brings strong business development expertise with a focus on best practices to scale electronic health information (EHI) exchanges nationwide. ‚Äč