Every day healthcare professionals need to transmit confidential documents with sensitive patient information. Email is not always the best option because it’s not secure and can easily be compromised. Faxing is still a HIPAA approved method of sending, receiving, and tracking private data. However, most users find traditional faxing to be very frustrating, to say the least. What makes HIPAA and privacy regulations even more frustrating is that email is so quick and easy. There are several tedious steps to manually send a conventional fax:
- Print a document from your computer.
- Walk to the fax machine.
- Fill out a cover sheet.
- Dial the fax number (make sure you’ve got the right number!).
- Send the fax.
- Wait for the fax to send.
- Confirm the fax was successful and if not return to step one.
With all of that hassle no wonder so many people hate faxing. This is why I’d like to introduce you to the seven steps to selecting the HIPAA approved cloud fax service that will help you eliminate all of the headaches associated with traditional faxing solutions while gaining the efficiency of digital data transmissions. With cloud faxing your organization will continue to adhere to healthcare industry regulations while enjoying vastly improved ease of use and cost savings associated with the elimination of analog phone lines, tech fees, and fax machine maintenance and leasing costs. Many other mission-critical business applications have already been moved to the cloud. A hosted fax service is no different. Many documents are created in digital formats to begin with so maintaining that digital continuity by sending and receiving with cloud fax can be an integral part of your healthcare practice. Cloud-based solutions give you all of the technology without any large up-front capital investments. Just like other cloud-based solutions, cloud faxing is scalable, flexible to meet changing needs, and can be customized to your unique application.
How to Choose the Right Cloud Fax Solution for Healthcare
Cloud computing options are ubiquitous. Cloud faxing solutions are no different, there are many out there to choose from. Searching online for “cloud fax” might do more harm than good when you’re trying to make the best-informed decision. With these seven steps to selecting the right cloud fax service you can eliminate those seven steps to manually sending old fashioned faxes:
- Understand Your Business Goals
- Compare Solutions
- Minimize Costs and Man Hours
- Validate Compliance to Regulations
- Evaluate User Friendliness
- Test the Customer Service
- Maximize Short and Long-Term Benefits
Following this path will help remove the challenging part of finding the cloud faxing solution that meets your needs, lowers both operational and employee costs, maintains HIPAA data privacy requirements, and is user friendly.
Understand Your Business Goals
You want to find the cloud faxing solution that best meets your organization’s strategic objectives and you’ll want to answer the who, what, where, when, and why questions. First, it’s a good idea to take inventory of what fax machines and associated phone lines that you’re currently using to get an idea of what your monthly costs are and how much fax volume you typically have. Next you’ll also need to map out your business processes that require communications of protected health information (PHI) to outside the organization, understand the fax integration points, your fax image retention policy and security audit requirements.
Once you have an idea of what you’re trying to accomplish with cloud faxing and what faxing requirements you have, you can then move on to comparing different service providers. Things that you’ll want to look out for are company background and expertise, payment options, security and SLA levels, disaster recovery, APIs, integrations and features.
Minimize Costs and Man Hours
Your cloud fax system should work for you, not the other way around. Ensure the faxing solution you choose will allow you to minimize your costs and man hours. How easy is it to install? How long, if at all, will your business and employees be disrupted? Will you be able to port your existing fax numbers?
Validate Compliance to Regulations
Since healthcare is a highly regulated industry, the solutions that you consider should allow you to efficiently protect document privacy and facilitate compliance with HIPAA regulations. Look for tracking reports, delivery confirmation options as well and providers willing to enter in a BAA and that have independently audited cyber security programs like ISO 27001 and SOC2.
Evaluate User Friendliness
The most important part of any faxing solution that you choose are the users. How your shareholders embrace the new system can quickly spell success or failure. Make sure that the user experience is as painless and intuitive as possible. Questions you should ask are: Can faxes be sent and received securely via email (i.e. supports TLS), is there a mobile app, can faxes be printed on existing printers if need be, is there centralized and internet accessible fax service available 24/7, are there fax history and tracking reports, any simple to use APIs?
Test the Customer Service
We never want anything to go wrong but when it does you want to make sure that you have direct access to a 24-hour help desk, whether that’s online or over the phone. And of course, you’ll want to have support during the installation process. Ask suppliers where there customer service located? What type of qualification is required for support agents? What is the support agents average tenure? How the escalation process works? There are a few ways that you can determine the quality of customer service before you sign up for a service. By asking your potential vendors for customer references, request product demonstrations and a free trial period, and taking a look at the company’s market presence and customer base will give you a feel for the solution’s features, capabilities, and the opportunity to assess the quality of customer service.
Maximize Short and Long Term Benefits
The cloud fax solution that you decide upon should be scalable and flexible to maximize both the short and long term benefits of your purchase. If you predict that your operations will be growing in the future you’ll want your fax solution to grow with you but if you’re small now, you don’t want to be paying too much for service capabilities that you’re not using. A fax solution that adapts to changing needs, has automatic provisioning of new accounts, offers easy and timely on-boarding, integrates with your current systems and third party applications, and can be deployed to new offices are things that you should look for. An ideal fax provider partner is one that allows you to safely exchange vital and confidential information through on-premises, cloud deployments, or a hybrid mix of both. On-premises fax can take advantage of your existing IP infrastructure and eliminate costs for analog phone lines, maintenance, paper, supplies, and other related expenses. The cloud fax service shouldn’t require you to purchase additional hardware or entail complicated software installations giving you high volume fax capacity via multi function printers (MFPs), email, online browsers, and mobile apps. If you opt for a hybrid solution you’ll be able to protect your data with the reliability of an on-premises fax solution and benefit from the simplicity and flexibility of the cloud infrastructure.
Make Your Final Decision
All that’s left now is to make your final decision. There are a lot of solutions to choose from but when you know what you need, want, and currently have you can make an informed decision. Don’t forget to involve the folks that will be using this on a daily basis – their input can be invaluable. Cloud fax combines the best parts of old and new technology and when you pick a solution that can adapt and grow with you, you’ll be prepared for whatever changes lie ahead.