Intelligent and Connected Healthcare Begins With Paperless Fax

By Amy Perry, director of product marketing, OpenText.

Amy Perry
Amy Perry

The pace of digital transformation today is increasing rapidly, with more industries jumping on the bandwagon to adopt new technologies which recast workflows. New solutions powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning are enabling machines to handle processes once cumbersome to employees.

In fact, the rate of this shift is so pronounced that according to Deloitte, the average digital transformation budget has increased by 25 percent over the past year, from $11 million to $13.6 million. More than half of mid-sized and large companies are spending more than $10 million on these efforts.

While this is a trend impacting almost every industry, it presents unique challenges to the healthcare sector. One of the most important challenges digital transformation extends to healthcare professionals is in the area of interoperability. As the sheer amount of health-related data, along with the ways to transmit and store this data, continues to increase, the ability of healthcare organizations to juggle the free flow of information between the patient’s care team and the patient is becoming more vital. At the same time, healthcare providers must ensure the highest levels of patient data privacy.

Unsurprisingly, most healthcare providers are preparing for this challenge. According to a new survey of healthcare IT professionals conducted by OpenText in conjunction with IDG Research, 85 to 94 percent of healthcare organizations are either actively investing or are planning to quickly invest in interoperability infrastructure to provide more intelligent and connected healthcare. While this intent is a great starting point, the journey can still be challenging for organizations of every size.

Ensuring a more free flow of information between providers to enhance the patient experience while simultaneously adhering to HIPAA’s privacy mandates may initially seem impossible to many teams. A wider embracement of paperless fax solutions across the industry could provide a data-centric solution which allows organizations to further interoperability goals while also ensuring that patient privacy remains paramount.

Paperless fax gains momentum

The evolution to fax stems from HIPAA guidelines mandating all patient information be securely stored and communicated. Tools such as email lack essential regulatory compliance and must be shelved in favor of other forms of communication, such as secure fax. While paper-based fax has become almost obsolete in other industries, it is still heavily used in healthcare despite causing some roadblocks to efficient communication. Paper-based fax requires a labor-intensive process that results in limited access to patient information at the point of care and slower care coordination between providers. Though these shortcomings are widely recognized among healthcare professionals, nearly half of patient information is still being transmitted by paper-based fax.

Findings from the same survey confirm momentum in paperless fax technologies. According to survey respondents, 50 percent of all medical communications continues to be done via some form of fax, but paperless faxing surpasses paper-based faxing in terms of medical communications volume. Among this, a significant majority of the survey respondents showed favorability to paperless faxing because of its digital integration capabilities.

Seventy-six percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they are happy with their current paperless faxing method because it’s integrated with their electronic medical record (EMR), back-end system, or other applications. By integrating digital faxing with EMR, document management systems, and clinical applications, a paperless fax solution becomes the most connected device in an organization, optimizing patient information exchange, reducing costs, and increasing productivity.

The catalyst for future patient information exchange

In addition, a favorable attribute to paperless faxing is that it provides a much more secure form of patient information exchange and surpasses the requirements of HIPAA’s Protected Health Information privacy rule. As new interoperability tools based on standards for the secure transmission of patient records are considered across many healthcare organizations, health providers can leverage their existing paperless fax solution to transition to modern, secure, and interoperable exchanges of patient documentation that are integrated across systems and applications.

Ultimately, the study’s findings show technology has reversed the death knell many initially thought had struck the fax industry. In fact, instead of being a siloed or time-consuming way to share information, new paperless fax technologies are helping eliminate these inefficiencies by shortening the time it takes to get patient information to the right provider and facilitating faster access to critical information at the point of care. Implementing a cloud-based delivery system is an attractive step as organizations move to the adoption of digital transformation. Healthcare providers must modernize legacy systems and embrace these new technologies to stay at the forefront of the industry and meet patients’ growing expectations.

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