Direct Digital Faxing Accelerates Communications for Government and Healthcare Organizations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Paul Banco, CEO and co-founder, etherFAX  

Paul Banco

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed the fragility of traditional telephony infrastructure. Government and healthcare organizations utilizing limited PSTN-based fax numbers and legacy systems simply cannot handle the increased number of documents being transmitted each day. Busy signals, failed transmissions, and unsecure networks are delaying workflows and preventing critical documents including medical records, test results, and unemployment benefits from being processed fast and effectively.

Recently, a state unemployment department’s online system was overwhelmed 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.

To streamline workflows and eliminate busy signals, the department transitioned its outdated fax systems to a hybrid-cloud fax network with built-in redundancy. As a result, the department was able to keep pace with the high volume of faxes, eliminate busy signals and ensure the flow of business-critical correspondence.

Given the myriad of cases and tests related to the coronavirus, hospitals were also overloaded with the high-volume of protected health information (PHI) being transmitted. Moreover, hackers exploited weaknesses in medical devices, creating more chaos to an already frenetic situation.

According to Forescout, 53% of common medical devices still operate on traditional, legacy platforms, leaving hospitals wide open to cyberattacks due to insufficient access controls.

To securely send and receive unstructured data such as patient records, medical forms, authorizations, prescriptions, and insurance claims with guaranteed delivery, healthcare organizations need a solution that is digital and direct.

By extending legacy devices to a secure exchange network that is HIPAA, PCI DSS, and SOC 2 compliant, organizations can ensure that PHI remains safe between fax servers and integrated applications. Direct digital faxing also guarantees that communications never traverse an external telephone network.

In addition, a hybrid-cloud fax network can provide end-to-end encryption to guarantee that PHI and business-critical data is encrypted from the moment it leaves the sending device or application until it is accepted and validated by the receiving party.

Well-defined end-to-end encryption methods, such as those defined in the Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES), fully protect the transfer of information between two endpoints.

While the lack of interoperability remains a huge challenge for healthcare and government industries, cloud-based fax solutions offer the flexibility to integrate with today’s popular fax servers as well as mobile applications and third-party messaging platforms such as Slack, Teams, and Microsoft Fax.

With the ability to send and receive any document or file securely between applications and platforms, medical providers can fuel healthcare innovation to improve patient care and government agencies can streamline social services to better serve communities.

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