Since its inception in the 1960s as an analog technology, fax has undergone significant advancements, transforming into the highly scalable Digital Cloud Fax platforms available today. These platforms possess the capability to handle millions of faxes, making fax communication more robust and powerful than ever before.
From its analog origins in the sixties to the infinitely scalable Digital Cloud Fax platforms today that can send/receive/process and manage millions of faxes; Fax has never been as robust and powerful. The future of Fax and its role in healthcare has been a topic of much discussion but with the vision of an all-digital healthcare system still evolving, fax is seeing its architecture evolve to meet the challenges of complete interoperability.
The fax industry wants you to throw away recycle your fax machines and go digital. The fax industry gains nothing from you using paper; however, paper fax, as well as paper medical records, will always be around. The advantages of fax (contractually binding, receipt of a transmission, HIPAA compliance, etc.) are the same if the fax is paper or digital.
Digital faxing can be integrated from start to finish in the healthcare document lifecycle. Medical records in an EMR system being digitally faxed to another office (that utilizes cloud fax), where those records are put through powerful OCR engines, routed and converted toStructured Data which can then be consumed with the new medical interoperability standards such asFHIR, HL7, and Direct. What is structured data? Basically, it’s data that has an identifiable and repetitive format. HL7 uses a delimited data structure, and FHIR messages can use JSON or XML. It’s basically text formatted to be easily readable and processable by machines efficiently.
Interoperability is a big buzzword in healthcare and it may seem straightforward. The path to it is less clear. Going all-digital will require a massive effort by all parties involved, including fax. We have seen the evolutions of email and how data is managed in the cloud. There is no reason to believe that fax will not evolve as well. Everything in the cloud is a great idea but it’s just an idea. The reality is somewhere in the middle. We are getting there but a vast majority of medical records are paper, and document conversion is a slow ongoing process. Fax will assist in this effort with digital cloud faxing.
In conclusion, the future is bright regarding digitizing healthcare records. There will come a day when all health records are digital but that future will not materialize if we don’t take a measured and thoughtful approach to the process. Going from paper to digital is just the first step, not the final goal.Fax has never been more capable and powerful than it is today. Healthcare and organizations working to modernize healthcare will be wellserved to harness that power and avoid the knee-jerk “Axe the Fax” memes that malign a technology that has been a stalwart partner for decades.
Replacing legacy fax servers is commonplace as organizations reduce use of rack space, rented or owned. Fax servers are disappearing like the dodo bird.
A whopping 5% of traditional on-premise fax transmissions fail to reach their intended destination. With reliable and deliverable communication being at the center of quality patient care, how can this staggering number be reduced?