The evolution of fax technology: Enabling secure, health-critical communications via the cloud

Despite mobile and cloud technologies becoming more prevalent within healthcare organizations, fax is still one of the most trusted document delivery methods available today.

While fax is an engrained method of document exchange within the healthcare ecosystem, it is often hampered by limitations associated with traditional PSTN, severely limited transmission speeds and telephony infrastructure. As a result, hospitals, pharmacies, and insurance companies are subject to communication bottlenecks and must deal with a growing onset of telecommunications incompatibilities.

Redefining Fax Transmissions

Fax over IP is an outdated technology and is becoming increasingly difficult to support over many carrier networks. It's time to eliminate the complexities of provisioning SIP, T.38, PRI, T1, and other unreliable legacy transmission systems. It's time to redefine fax transmissions for the modern era.

Hybrid fax solutions now enable existing fax solutions to leverage the cloud. By eliminating the need for fax boards, media gateways, and telephony infrastructure, faxes can be securely received and delivered via HTTPS instead of traditional, PSTN-based connectivity. Cloud networks provide controlled access for enhanced security, faster transmission speeds, and are more cost-effective than traditional fax servers. IDC reported that by 2020, 80 percent of all healthcare data will be passed through the cloud.

Securing Unstructured Data and Improving Patient Care

One of the biggest problems facing the healthcare industry today is exchanging unstructured data across applications, EMRs and other exchanges. Patient records, scripts, discharge summaries, scanned documents, medical forms, authorizations, prescriptions, insurance claims, and other billing information make up the 1.2 billion clinical documents that are produced in the U.S. each year.

With recent spikes in healthcare data breaches, organizations need a document delivery method that is scalable and guarantees security and privacy. IDC found that 1 out of 3 patients had their healthcare records compromised by cyberattacks in 2016 and ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations will double in 2018.

By leveraging the security of fax technology with the scalability of the cloud, the exchange of PHI and other business-critical information among the healthcare ecosystem is protected. This allows patients to receive high-quality care without compromising their personal information. Unlike traditional paper-based faxing, cloud networks are managed by several layers of encryption to keep sensitive information secure while in transit and in-queue.

As patient confidentiality is one of the most important values in healthcare today, it is imperative to utilize a fax solution that is 100 percent HIPAA compliant. Many legacy fax machines do not offer the added security of SSL encryption when sending, receiving and storing faxes. By extending legacy fax machines to a HIPAA compliant cloud fax network, healthcare organizations can guarantee privacy, security, and compliance.

Guaranteed security of unstructured data offers unlimited potential for healthcare organizations. The evolution of fax technology and cloud fax services empower medical providers to manage their internal workflow more effectively and to improve productivity. In the near future, a purely customized healthcare experience will be attainable, thus improving patient care and revolutionizing the medical industry.

As CEO of etherFAX, Paul Banco is responsible for the strategic direction of the company and leads technology development, including the patented etherFAX and etherFAX SEN intellectual property. As a visionary, he identified the need to leverage the cloud for secure document delivery and co-founded etherFAX in 2009 with other telecom industry veterans.

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