Faxing still has a place within many healthcare organizations, providing an effective way to send and receive protected health information (PHI). However, there’s recently been a shift to cloud-based secure fax services, allowing for improved usability and security of that shared information.
Healthcare providers must choose a fax provider carefully guaranteeing the security of PHI at all times, while also ensuring providers and staff have access to and can operate the system easily. Cloud-based faxing allows users to easily transmit data in a digital format through a secure internet connection using high-level encryption, real-time data transfers, and other capabilities.
Here are some things people in the medical industry need to know about how to choose a secure fax service.
How Online Fax Services Work
“The cloud” is any software or service provided over the internet; a cloud fax service replaces physical fax machine or on-premises fax server with internet-based, outsourced service options. A dedicated phone line or fax machine isn’t necessary with cloud-based faxing, nor does it need an on-premises fax server that requires system maintenance and/or upgrades with internal IT staff involvement.
Instead, cloud faxing takes a digital file and sends it with a special email address that includes the recipient’s fax number, or provides an easy-to-use web interface. The service provider converts uploaded documents into the proper format, encrypts them, and sends them to the recipient. Or, when receiving, the provider converts the document into a format that’s readable and then delivers the fax.
A cloud-fax service offers 100% compliance with HIPAA and other regulations.
How To Choose an Online Fax Service
Follow these steps when choosing an online fax service:
1. Assess your needs.
First, you’ll need to know the realistic volume of faxes that will need to be sent and received. Additionally, prepare a list of fax document workflow and processing requirements so you know ahead of time what the fax service will need to provide.
2. Reach out to vendors.
Start by researching top online fax service providers and reading about their offerings, as well as investigating past and current customer reviews. Reach out to the top vendors for more information.
Ask for representative to explain all included features and how they handle customer service needs, and ensure the product meets your needs. At this time, you can evaluate both their product and customer service.
3. Understand cost and fees.
Hidden fees and unexpected costs can make budgeting difficult, so ask about overall pricing and any other charges you could face throughout the contract.
Most providers offer a free product demonstration or trial period, so take advantage of this. Test the service before you finalize the purchase to see how it works and better understand if it will work for your needs. For example, is it user friendly? Does it provide necessary features and capabilities for managing your faxing and document control needs? Does it integrate with your back-office document workflows? What is the capacity and performance?
You should also ask about additional tools that can integrate with your current technology or other features the service offers (such as custom cover sheets, delivery to network folder, broadcast faxing, preset delivery times, or folder-based faxing).
5. Make sure the secure fax service is HIPAA-compliant.
Ask vendor about whether their product is HIPAA compliant and what features are in place such as:
- Control over access to customer PHI.
- Data encryption during transmission and while at rest in the cloud.
- Cybersecurity insurance coverage.
- Finding and protecting against anticipated cybersecurity threats and information theft.
Ultimately, the service should take steps to guarantee all PHI availability, integrity, and confidentiality.
Additionally, ask the vendor if they can share their Annual SOC 2 Type II audit report and Application Penetration Test report with you. Also ensure they would sign Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
Benefits A HIPAA-Complaint Fax Service Should Have
Cloud faxing, or online faxing, has a variety of benefits including greater flexibility, security, and efficiency. For example, cloud-based fax services:
- Provide secure transmission. Criminals cannot hack into a fax to steal data, and even if it is somehow hacked or intercepted, the third party can’t read it without conversion by an authorized user. Faxes deployed with data encryption can make faxes more reliable and secure, which is essential when sending and receiving PHI.
- Send a secure fax immediately. Data traveling uninterrupted from a fax sender to a recipient is less susceptible to hacking. Cloud faxing sends faxes directly to an individual, and the user who wants access must provide correct credentials. You’ll then receive confirmation that the intended recipient gets the fax.
- Keep costs down. There’s no need to purchase, operate, or maintain a separate fax machine or on-premises fax server, or have a dedicated phone line. You’ll save internal IT staff time because there isn’t an on-premises fax server or network systems. Cloud faxing also reduces paper waste.
- Are easy to use. Managing incoming and outgoing faxes is as simple as having access to a computer or mobile device and internet connection – no other equipment is required. Immediate service activation doesn’t require a long lead time, and user-friendly online tools allow you to send and receive faxes anywhere.
Plus, Softlinx also offers a customer web portal with comprehensive fax administration features, making managing fax users and secure fax activities easy.
Enhance productivity. Using a cloud fax service streamlines healthcare fax workflows and significantly simplifies faxing tasks. This helps staff work more efficiently, eliminating challenges like managing junk faxes or dealing with paperwork, refilling paper or ink, or other maintenance.
Trust Softlinx with Secure HIPAA-Compliant Faxing
Our HIPPA-complaint cloud faxing services and other solutions can help you achieve smarter document-handling protocols while protecting PHI. Request a demo today or call 978-881-0560, toll free 800-899-7724.