This seemingly backward move is actually quite the opposite; using fax server software to modernize faxing services, integrating fax online capabilities with email and printing, and adding fax capabilities directly into EMR/EHR systems makes moving from email to fax a great step forward for small family practices, specialists, and major healthcare institutions alike.
Faxing has always been a way to transfer data between healthcare professionals and other practices, pharmacies, and insurance agencies alike. Faxing is like the lowest common denominator of communications in most businesses; with a phone number in hand, anyone can fax to anyone else that has a fax machine. Because the communications are circuit-based and point-to-point, they are considered more secure than email, which crosses the Internet and could be intercepted by malicious users.
However, faxing can be slow, labor intensive, and there is nothing at all secure about a sensitive fax left sitting in the output bin for anyone to see, so HIPAA has a number of things to say about how healthcare practices must secure their fax machines. But what if there were no fax machines? What if you don’t need to lock up the machine in its own special room? What if you could combine the speed, convenience, ease-of-use, and privacy of your email client with the interoperability of your fax machine? That is where fax server software comes into play.
With fax server software, a user can take a document and simply email to fax, just like they would email to email. Instead of entering an email address or picking a contact from their address book, they can enter a telephone number or pick a contact from their address book and turn that document into a fax all within their existing computer software; nothing to print out and then file or shred after sending; no need to stand at a machine and wait for the busy signal to stop and the paper to pass through the box.
Fax server software integrates with your email server and “fax enables” most pieces of software on a user’s computer. Anyone can email to fax, or even print to fax, without a need for an actual printout on paper, or a machine on a counter. The heart of the system resides on a server in the computer room, and your PC becomes your fax machine. If it can print, then any program you have can email to fax because it will “see” the fax machine as a printer.
Fax server software can also integrate with your EMR/EHR system, enabling inbound faxes to automatically become files attached to medical records, or to take existing records and send them on to insurance companies or referrals. The time saved directly moving data in and out of your EMR/EHR system without first having to print it, and then taking it to the fax machine, sending it, and then filing that paper can add up to hours per week, not to mention the storage space saved by using this email-to-fax capability instead of storing all those printouts.
With all that fax server software has to offer, it is worth looking at an implementation of an email to fax solution in your practice. You’ll be glad you did.