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Digital Faxes Are a Boon for Healthcare

January 21, 2014

 By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

There’s a lot of talk about how smartphone technology will change the healthcare industry. This is, of course, a big development for the medical community. But it also obscures other technologies that are working to make healthcare more efficient, accurate, and ultimately affordable.

One of those unsung technological heroes is the fax.

Well, not just any old fax: Fax-over-IP (FoIP).

Just as telephone calls have gone digital via voice-over-IP (VoIP), so too has the fax gone digital. This evolution offers many benefits for healthcare organizations.

First, it helps healthcare providers more securely prescribe, order, view and archive prescriptions. That’s because FoIP enables automatic document routing for incoming and outgoing faxes. Whereas a traditional fax comes in as a pile of paper that then must be ingested and filed, FoIP faxes can be identified using optical character recognition and automatically routed to the appropriate department or person.

FoIP enables more accurate billing, too, always a healthcare headache. It does this through eliminating the need to manually enter bills and payment totals.

It helps keep medical records in sync with electronic medical records (EMR). Faxes can be copied to an EMR system automatically, centralizing medical information and ensuring less human error.

Unlike traditional faxes, FoIP is more secure. This, of course, is a prime consideration for healthcare. With services such as FaxSIPit, faxes are transmitted using the HTTPS standard. This secure form of communication is the same type of encryption used by banks for online banking. Patient healthcare information never needs to be exposed again to interception.

Further, FoIP enables better data mining. Because faxes are digital with FoIP, unlike traditional faxes they can be searched. From this, healthcare can then discover trends and index information more easily.

Crucial in this time of heightened healthcare privacy concerns, there also is an audit trail with documents that are sent via FoIP. So it is possible to ensure that documents have only been received by those who are supposed to see the information, not anyone who might happen to be close to the fax machine.

While smartphones and tablets will be changing healthcare in the future, FoIP is already doing it today.

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