Digital Fax Technology: A Lifeline for Healthcare and Unemployment Organizations During COVID-19
A recent article from The New York Times exposed the many pitfalls of legacy fax machines. From busy signals and slow transmissions that hamper the delivery of coronavirus test results to the lack of interoperability and usability that delays contact tracing, limited PSTN-based fax numbers and systems simply cannot handle the increased number of documents being transmitted each day during the coronavirus pandemic.
At the Harris County Public Health department in Texas, doctors and medical staff are struggling to keep pace with the thousands of test results and faxes being sent and received. When a laboratory faxed over a large batch of test results to the department, hundreds of pages containing protected health information (PHI) sprayed all over the floor. “From an operational standpoint, it makes things incredibly difficult,” Dr. Shah, executive director of the department said. “The data is moving slower than the disease.”
Dr. Mark Escott, the interim health authority for the city of Austin and Travis County, says his office receives about 1,000 faxes a day. Since many faxes are missing crucial information needed for his staff to investigate cases, contact tracing is often delayed by 11-14 days. Unfortunately, any delay in the processing of COVID-19 test results could lead to fatal consequences as patients could be unknowingly spreading the virus as they await their diagnosis.
Healthcare isn’t the only industry overwhelmed by the myriad of paperwork being sent and received during the pandemic. In a recent case study, we discussed how a state unemployment department’s online system was inundated when more than 72,000 people applied for unemployment insurance in one week. The department’s fax lines were constantly busy, making it difficult for thousands of people to submit unemployment claims.
Despite being perceived as antiquated technology, fax still plays a key role to support a broad range of business transactions across industries. Faxed documents are viable; it’s the traditional PTSN-based network and related telephony components that give fax a bad name.
Now more than ever, cloud-based, compliant fax solutions are vital to deliver quality patient care, accelerate communications, and improve business processes. Digital faxing eliminates busy signals associated with traditional telephony infrastructure and provides new ways to send and receive information from a virtually unlimited number of endpoints and devices. Unlike traditional faxing, hybrid-cloud faxing improves usability and interoperability within the healthcare industry, and compliant fax can guarantee the secure delivery of business-critical data and PHI.
The etherFAX Secure Exchange Network (SEN) is the world’s largest compliant fax network, leveraging hybrid cloud technology to provide 100 percent secure communications. DirectFax via etherFAX SEN enables organizations to send and receive PHI directly to applications and devices with ultra-fast transmission speeds, guaranteed delivery, and end-to-end encryption. etherFAX SEN features built-in redundancy and eliminates the need for phone lines, fax boards, and servers.
To streamline workflows and eliminate busy signals for the state unemployment department mentioned above, etherFAX and its partner Instant InfoSystems supported the department’s transition to the etherFAX network in the cloud by implementing stratafax® Production Services, an enterprise-grade production fax solution powered by etherFAX. As a result, the department was able to keep pace with the high volume of faxes and thousands of unemployment claims were able to be processed fast and efficiently.
etherFAX also allows organizations to send and receive high-resolution documents from today’s popular third-party messaging platforms including Slack, Teams, Microsoft Fax, and mobile applications. Leveraging etherFAX SEN, organizations can send and receive faxes and PHI documents on Android and iOS mobile phones with near-diagnostic image quality. With the ability to exchange test results, X-rays, and CT scans with superior color and clarity via applications and mobile devices, doctors can provide medical diagnoses faster than ever before.
Overall, faxing is no longer synonymous with dark, heavy inking on a black-and-white fax sent over slow machines and hissing phone lines. Today, fax is cloud-based and virtual – allowing data to be easily shared, accessed, and analyzed. Even a 100-page document can be sent within seconds via etherFAX SEN.
Interested in learning more? Read how etherFAX and Instant InfoSystems are fueling healthcare innovation here.
If you’d like to speak with an etherFAX representative, schedule a meeting with us here.