Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 12, 2012

Fax Technology Making Its Mark on Healthcare

When you think of fax, you probably don’t think of up-to-date high-tech or innovative advancements, but fax technology is being used in fresh ways, particularly in healthcare.

Biscom is a provider of fax management solutions, offering more than 23 years of experience, expertise, reliability, performance and support to customers. Every day, millions of users and thousands of enterprises rely on Biscom for secure and reliable document delivery solutions. There are numerous ways that fax server technology like Biscom’s is being utilized in the healthcare industry today.

“Most importantly, fax software can convert paper-based documents into a more secure and efficient digital means of documentation,” explained Alan Gonsenhauser, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Biscom, in an interview with TMC. “This is done by converting the data in fax documents with OCR and barcode technology into metadata and uploading the data into Electronic Medical Record (EMR), ePrescription and Practice Management systems.

Additionally, fax helps healthcare organizations meet HIPAA regulations by securing protected health information (PHI). Instead of being printed on fax machines for all to see, incoming faxes can be automatically routed to the correct person or workflows, such as hospital test and appointment scheduling, hospital information management, or prior authorizations. Moreover, cloud technologies can now be leveraged to supplement on-premise fax servers in a hybrid fax system to easily handle business continuity, disaster recovery and peaks in workflow

“Unlike technologies such as e-mail, fax is significantly more secure,” continued Gonsenhauser. “It presents no risk of viruses and it can’t be hacked. There are no file size or server limitations, allowing users to send and receive files of any size. Unlike e-mail, fax is a legal document and users receive delivery confirmations, consolidated reporting and audit trails to confirm secure deliveries of their documents.”

PLUS Diagnostics, a CLIA-certified cytology, histology and molecular pathology laboratory, recently deployed the Biscom Digital Fax to immediately deliver high resolution, full color anatomic pathology lab results over its IP network to speed up delivery of lab results to physicians while saving on overnight delivery costs.

PLUS Diagnostics needed to provide its clients with more detailed, full-color test results than a traditional fax technology could provide. For instance, high resolution color reporting conveys clinical data- including any applicable graphs and detailed histological images--in a much more accurate and detailed manner than standard grayscale fax reporting.  The additional clarity transmits clear diagnostic information, assisting physicians with their treatment decisions.

PLUS installed Biscom’s Digital HD-IP Fax Platform and experienced transmission of higher quality color images, further supporting greater physician confidence in the labs finding and immediate receipt of transmitted diagnostic reports. By eliminating any delay between the lab sending the report and the physician receiving it, patient conditions can be diagnosed and treated more quickly.

The company also experienced assurance that faxed images are encrypted with standards-based 256-bit AES encryption, which helps the lab and physicians meet HIPAA compliance and protect patient privacy. Before deploying Biscom’s Digital Fax, labeled as PLUS Dx Remote, PLUS Diagnostics faxed results to physician practices the traditional way, and then shipped the originals via FedEx overnight delivery, costing over $5.00 per report. Using the Biscom application, PLUS Diagnostics has eliminated overnight shipping costs and reduced phone line charges, resulting in savings of thousands of dollars per month.

Fax over IP (FoIP) enables sending and receiving faxes via a Voice over IP (VoIP) network – such as those from Cisco, Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Quintum and others. More organizations have come to realize the cost savings and productivity benefits that derive from deploying a FoIP server. In fact, even if you don't have a VoIP network in place today, you can still implement FoIP and virtualize your fax servers through use of the Dialogic Brooktrout SR140 fax software and media gateway, offered by Biscom.

“Fax has truly evolved itself from the simple fax machine that people are so familiar with from twenty or more years ago,” said Gonsenhauser. “Today’s fax software reduces costs, accelerates user productivity and secures private data. It also eliminates up to 60 percent of labor costs through desktop integration while also cutting out supply costs such as toner, ink and paper. This also means that the modern fax is a green technology. “

Biscom fax solutions are easy for the end-user to learn, yet sophisticated in their capabilities. They integrate with legacy production systems (e.g. invoicing or PO processing), as well as with desktop client apps (e.g. email systems), health IT systems, and MFPs. Today’s fax has direct integration with directory services (such as Microsoft Active Directory) so the enterprise directory IS the fax directory. This eliminates the need to have multiple databases to synchronize, removing any timing differences or errors.

The virtualized fax software platform now allows organizations to get rid of hardware. Fax is now available in mobile devices and applications for smartphones and tablets that enable anytime, anywhere faxing.  Biscom’s hybrid fax server solution combines the best of on-premises and cloud-based hosted fax servers with an identical feature set and user/administrator interface. Hybrid systems provide seamless, automatic, and secure business continuity, disaster recovery and handling peaks in workflows.

Its newest fax offering, Biscom Digital Fax, lowers telecom costs by leveraging IP networks end-to-end, eliminating telephone lines completely to provide faster, higher resolution, full color and encrypted document communications.

Fax is ubiquitous and is used by 92 percent of healthcare entities. It’s simple and it’s a document delivery workhorse.

“Fax is the interoperability standard in healthcare as EMR and ePrescription systems do not speak the same language,” said Gonsenhauser. “Fax is continuously evolving to remain one of the most essential technologies in the ever-changing healthcare landscape.”

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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