Deliver healthcare information directly from applications such as EMR, PM and LIS
Healthcare and medical organizations understand the importance of procedure. Streamlined and straightforward business operations not only ensure services are executed effectively, but also that they’re done securely, too, following the substantial regulations of the healthcare industry.
With the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ever-sharpening the ways healthcare and medical practitioners document, communicate and store their patients’ information, something as simple as sending a fax can quickly manifest into a detailed, cumbersome and complicated procedure.
Luckily, there are alternatives. Online fax services that are HIPAA-compliant offer the most robust way for institutions to send, receive and manage their faxes and remain vigilant with their patient’s information — all while saving on costs and improving overall workflows.
What Are HIPAA-Compliant Online Fax Services?
HIPAA first and foremost safeguards consumer health information and data privacy. It places rules and guidelines around the security of medical records, as well as any other personal health information (PHI) that could be used to trace back to an individual. Also known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA is a set of federal protections intended to maintain the confidentiality of patient health data, specifying the basic security measures required to keep ePHI data secured. Often, both faxing and online faxing methods fall on the wrong side of HIPAA compliance, either due to unsecured machines or a lack of encryption. Replix®, on the other hand, meets all HIPAA compliance standards.
Its mandates spread across five official HIPAA Titles, each covering a significant facet of the United States health insurance and medical-practitioner landscape. From protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions to outlining standards for electronic information transactions, HIPAA is the defining regulator act for any entity or institution with access to PHI:
- Title I: Outlines the country’s medical insurance overview, including how consumers can access insurance, service minimums and protections against agencies trying to limit or deny specific coverage.
- Title II: Describes the security and protective measures healthcare organizations must have in place to guard their electronic patient medical records and data. It also details how that data can be communicated internally and externally with other medical practitioners, insurance providers and relevant third-party vendors.
- Title III: Sets up the tax-related brackets and procedures for medical care.
- Title IV: Further details health insurance access and coverage for individuals, including protecting those with pre-existing conditions to obtain reasonable and unobstructed coverage.
- Title V: Relays other medical and coverage-related situations and tax information, specifically on the “revenue offset” rules and deductions for company-offered insurance policies.
The most common HIPAA violations today concern Title II violations, meaning the secure electronic storage, access controls and transmission of PHI. In addition to unsecurely or careless transmitting patient data, many health organizations and their vendor partners fail to outline comprehensive data-risk analyses for the entirety of their organizations, leading to severe fines.
A HIPAA-compliant internet fax service mitigates these electronic risks. It is a solution that aims to make faxing medical information between healthcare operations simple and streamlined yet still HIPAA-compliant, with safeguards in place to ensure every aspect of Title II’s electronic information transfers are being followed. Softlinx’s Replix® is a HIPPA-compliant fax service geared toward the health care industry. The system ensures the security of confidential patient information every time by implementing appropriate safeguards. These safeguards include secured networks, authentication procedures, AES 256-bit encryption protocols and centralized secure storage, among other features. The system even maintains logs of all faxes, inquiries, retrievals and deletions for auditing purposes.
What Are Cloud-Based Fax Services for Healthcare?
For healthcare organizations, in particular, integrating safe, secure and efficient new software into their business processes can seem laborious and expensive. You not only have to train all personnel in the latest technology, but you must also ensure every process and procedure in that new system works under HIPAA laws without disrupting the fundamental uptime workings of the office. The nature of the industry doesn’t leave room for procedural carelessness.
In addition to when and how you transmit PHI, healthcare organizations must also account for the actual storage of that PHI. Internal or on-site data storage is a huge responsibility — and, if managed directly by a hospital, insurance agency or medical vendor — means further HIPAA rules and regulations to follow on the physical and digital infrastructure of data storage.
Cloud-based fax services for healthcare organizations helps ease the strain between safely storing and sending PHI via fax. They are computer applications that integrate with most current electronic health record (EHR) systems and help you correctly send and receive faxes, as well as save fax history in a comprehensive and audit-friendly log. Also, all electronic communications are safely encrypted, offering password-protected user controls and other security measures that adhere to HIPAA’s Title II regulations.
Internet-based fax services accomplish much of this by utilizing cloud technology. This means that rather than storing all fax data on-site, fax history and information is stored in an off-site, partnered data center — one that’s highly monitored, frequently tested and up to date in the latest network cyber-security strategies. Your organization can access its PHI, medical data and fax functions through a secure application portal, over email or online. In total, these systems make all fax-related work simpler yet more HIPAA-compliant — the dream combination for many healthcare administrators.
Who Needs HIPAA-Compliant Fax Services?
HIPAA-compliant fax services are a must for any organization or body that interacts with PHI. This also means third-party vendors or re-sellers could have access to PHI, not necessarily for their own daily, mission-critical operations, but because the nature of their work puts them in such a position.
The following three types of organizations should review their current faxing practices and infrastructure to see if they could benefit from cloud-based PHI partnerships.
1. Healthcare Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)
Independent software vendors package products for medical institutions’ administrative ease, from clinics and hospitals to private practices. They allow for doctors, nurses and office support staff to more readily perform the everyday administrative work that goes with running such an institution, from accounting and finance tasks to managing patients’ medical data, and faxing a patient’s chart over to a referral doctor.
Cloud-based faxing applications are attractive to ISVs because it allows these vendors to package a more dynamic and appealing product by enabling their product to send and receive healthcare documents via fax from within the application. When a clinic’s personnel can log onto one computer program to perform a variety of tasks, rather than being forced to run multiple applications on a one-by-one individual basis, their workflows are made fundamentally easier.
A handful of significant healthcare independent software systems are on the market today that benefit from HIPAA-compliant fax service integration, including:
- Electronic Health Record (EHR) Software: EHR programs are standard across today’s medical institutions. Indeed, not having one in your hospital or clinic could spell government penalties, as EHR software tends to cover all the processes that make a medical institution operate successfully and on-par with industry standards. With cloud-based faxing implemented into EHR systems, everything from billing and ordering tests and prescriptions to communicating with referral doctors is streamlined.
- Healthcare Practice Management (PM) Software: Similar to EHR systems, healthcare-specific practice management systems helps medical offices run smoothly. It tends to assist less with the healthcare-technical side of operations, though, and more with the business, building and patient processing operations, such as scheduling visits or running an insurance eligibility test. It can also make tasks like medical claims and reimbursements far easier. When combined with cloud-based faxing, organizations have a more thorough workflow that directly increases its ability to manage and process patient needs.
- Radiology Imaging System (RIS) Software: RIS software is an image-centric platform to manage medical imagery and its associated patient data. While most other ISV’s products are inherently text and program-based, an RIS application allows for deeper management of things like radiology imaging orders, scans and image archives. Like other programs, these images can be turned into reports and charts for more comprehensive patient files.
- Medical Billing Software: As the name suggests, medical billing software houses the often-complicated and multi-step process of healthcare and insurance billing. Without medical billing software, an office would be stymied by communicating with insurance companies and patients alike on various payment matters. A cloud-based fax system set up within billing software only helps amplify these operations, turning one of the most challenging facets of the healthcare system into a single, smooth electronic transaction.
- Other Healthcare-Related Programs and Applications: The benefits of having even a basic faxing-platform integration directly speeds up all processes in administrative work. Combined with the cloud-based storage and a partnered data center, offices quickly find they have less on their plates to manage while improving their workflows and HIPAA compliance strategies.
2. Healthcare Service Organizations
From hospitals and clinics to specialized care centers and assisted-living facilities, it falls on medical institutions themselves to enact compliant practices and technological systems. While these organizations often partner with other companies or vendors to do so, the accountability ultimately rests on them.
Healthcare service organizations that don’t follow HIPAA’s electronic communication and e-PHI transfers could face the following penalties:
- Did-Not-Know or Reasonable Cause Fines: $100 to $50,000, depending on the severity of their negligence and how many violation incidents have occurred.
- Willful Neglect Fines: HIPAA violations that were identified and corrected but caused serious ramifications, such as data breaches, face fines that start at $10,000. Willful-neglected incompliance that was not corrected internally and identified by an audit begins in the $50,000 and go all the way up to multimillion-dollar sanctions.
- Disciplinary Actions or Termination: In cases of employee-data mismanagement where specific individuals have been identified as the source of incompliance, disciplinary measures may take place. If the incompliance oversights were serious enough, termination would occur.
- Criminal Prosecution: Healthcare organizations deemed to knowingly and repeatedly breach HIPAA can be reported to the Department of Justice, who in turn can press criminal charges based on the levels of pretense or malicious intent.
A HIPAA-compliant fax service alleviates compliance concerns at one of the most basic functions of a healthcare service organization. Something as simple as faxing doesn’t need to cause compliance headaches. Whether an organization is moving away from manually faxes, looking to strengthen their PHI-data storage or lacking a comprehensive new faxing solution altogether, cloud-based services can deliver.
3. IT Service Providers
IT service providers work with healthcare organizations as reseller partners. They have a distinct place in the industry, usually partnering as an outsourced IT management or data-storage vendor but looking to bolster their service offerings.
These providers already have established relationships with their healthcare clients. They know about niche operations that a care facility or medical center may not have the resources to dedicate to and can complement that knowledge with something as fundamental as cloud fax services.
IT service providers will often resell internet-based software as part of their suites. They’ll also help install the software into their client’s current PC and IT systems using application program interface (API) best practices, strengthening its usability and ensuring their clients don’t have to face long system-training downtimes. These sorts of partnerships also come with business associate agreements, mandated by HIPAA as an assurance that all parties with access to PHI are following Title II regulations and protecting patient information. These are essential documents that exist between healthcare providers and their third-party vendors, and one an institution should never ignore.
What Are the Benefits of HIPAA-Compliant Internet Faxing?
There are many advantages to incorporating a HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based fax service into your healthcare operations. Aside from the daily ease of more straightforward business processes, these faxing systems help bring peace of mind that your fax communications and activities are on-par with the healthcare industry’s strict governance.
Healthcare administrators and practitioners have enough on their plates without the headache of a complex fax system. When you must continually spend time checking and double checking fax information, shoring up its security, updating internal policies and training on the latest software with the newest compliance features, you are directly inhibiting one of the most perfunctory aspects of healthcare administration.
You can make your faxing and online-document deliveries streamlined and secure through a cloud-based system — all while taking advantage of a host of additional benefits, such as these four.
1. Enhanced Compliance
Adhering to HIPAA’s stringent industry rules is a leading concern for healthcare institutions and their partners. However, ensuring your practices are HIPAA compliant takes time, money and continual resources, both on the human and technical side.
With a secure, cloud-based fax delivery system, you directly streamline nearly all aspects of medical document communications that are still critically used today. This not only means quicker and more efficient services within your office, but the risk of in-compliance is off your shoulders — unlike when you have manual faxing or on-site fax servers.
The following items bolster this enhanced compliance:
- Business Associate Agreements (BAA): BAAs serve as chains of trust for all levels of healthcare providers, vendors and subcontractors. According to HIPAA, anyone with access or potential access to PHI must sign and adhere to these contracts. ReplixFax has built-in user logs, notifications and authorized access controls that complement BAAs and PHI-handling best practices, ultimately meeting HIPAA compliance.
- HIPAA-Audited Data Center: Your faxing service platform is managed and hosted at an SSAE-16 audited data center. This means you have a top-of-the-line facility, computer systems and data-management team regularly scrutinized under HIPAA’s evolving requirements, year to year.
- Compliance Management Partners: The cloud-based nature of the system means you have a 24/7 resource to support your critical fax data. This partner is just as responsible for its management and must be as well-versed in HIPAA regulations as you are, reinforcing your holistic risk-management practices.
2. Heightened Data Security
Some of HIPAA’s strongest regulations center on the safeguards and protection of PHI. Considering healthcare is one of the most-hacked industries today, its vast swaths of stored medical history and sensitive data mean healthcare service organizations cannot rest on their laurels. Institutions must continually be vigilant, monitoring their networks, setting up cyber-security defenses and partnering with vendors to help mitigate today’s and tomorrow’s risks.
It’s no easy task, but a comprehensive HIPAA-compliant fax service system can help you accomplish this with the following features:
- Designated Sign-In: Anyone sending a fax or working with system data must first sign into their individual, password-protected account.
- Fax Encryption: While at rest within the cloud-storage system, all faxes, files and their inputted protected health information (PHI) sit encrypted through a AES 256-bit encryption method, one of the most advanced in the industry.
- Fax Data Recovery: The loss of patient data will not only interrupt a healthcare organization’s or vendor’s operations — it puts real people at risk. Your reputation sits at stake without a routine data-backup system in place to recover PHI and faxes in the event of an emergency or cyber threat.
- Automatic Notifications: You can set up notifications to alert both senders and receivers when a fax has been initiated. This means sharper, real-time communication and better fax management, with fewer instances of sensitive data sitting in a queue.
- Authorized Access: You can set up your cloud-based fax API with authorized-only access, which gives system log-ins only to a select few individuals. This directly reduces the chance of unauthorized data access, viewing, transferring and overall in-compliant handling.
3. Streamlined Auditing
Another aspect of HIPAA compliance concerns the thorough and secure documentation of information, transactions and procedures. HIPAA-compliant faxing is no different, and agencies that do not have proper audit trails in place risk severe fines and repercussions if they are found to be incompliant.
The sheer amount of faxes and fax-related communications procured in the healthcare industry necessitates a complete, streamlined auditing system that logs and accounts for every piece of correspondence. With a cloud-based fax API system, you get the following:
- Complete Data Log: The fax API system maintains a record of all file activities, including additions, deletions, retrievals, transfers and data search queries. This is square one in a straightforward audit trail protocol for yourself or your medical clients.
- User Activity Log: The system registers all user activity, which you can then search and catalog using current administrative tools or other integrated web services APIs.
- Fax Trails: The system logs every incoming and outgoing fax, meaning you have one central repository for fax audit trails. Any audit request or compliance check has a straightforward accountability system in place.
- Annual SOC2 Reports: This is a complete report on the data center hosting your PHI, detailing its service environment, practices, updates and procedures, so you can rest assured your data management remains HIPAA-compliant.
- HIPAA-Compliant Fax Deletion: The system allows for industry-standard electronic file deletion, simplifying another compliance headache for many healthcare institutions or hosting vendors.
4. Simpler Software Integration
You can harmonize your’s or your client’s current computer programs and applications through tailored Web Service APIs. This software integration minimizes disruptions to your business operations, reduces employee training and allows operations to remain active. Plus, with more streamlined software suites, you can take care of tasks like converting HIPAA-compliant fax to emails or HIPAA-compliant link sharing in a few simple clicks.
Some other features of this integration include:
- Safe Fax Delivery: Send faxes using safer, security-enhanced delivery channels, either via email-over-TLS or Web-over-secure links.The sheer amount of faxes and fax-related communications procured in the healthcare industry necessitates a complete, streamlined auditing system that logs and accounts for every piece of correspondence. With a cloud-based fax API system, you get the following
- Safe Communications Portal: All communications enacted through the Web Service API come as encrypted links using premier Secure Sockets Layering (SSL) protocol.
- Fax Data Corrections: Reduce the likelihood of human error and improper data inputs. Replix Healthcare Fax can pull fax numbers and other simple data from your existing fax directories, including popular systems like LDAP, Microsoft Active Directory and IBM Domino Address Books.
- Complementary Administrative Tools: You can incorporate other administrative and fax-management tasks into Replix Healthcare Fax through Web Service API.
What Can Your Healthcare Organization Accomplish With HIPAA-Compliant Fax Technology and Support?
It’s not just about saving time and money. A complete, HIPAA-compliant fax solution for your medical or healthcare organization alleviates the oversight and energy it takes to remain in compliance, which is square one for those in the industry.
These cloud-based faxing programs also put people first — from your office administrators to your patients themselves. As concerns over data privacy and usage only grow more pressing, you can rest assured your organization is taking every possible measure to secure medical information and meet the public’s heightened demands.
A Replix® HIPAA-compliant fax solution from Softlinx is your partner in doing so. Schedule a free live software demo today at 1-800-899-7724, email our support specialists, request a quote online or fill out our contact form.
Why Softlinx Cloud Fax Services?
The Replix® health care fax service from Softlinx offers a reliable online document delivery and faxing solution for businesses of all types, especially those in the health care industry. By allowing your business to submit and accept faxes directly to and from your existing applications with an HIPAA-secure method, Replix® cuts costs to your business while streamlining your workflows. With the Replix® HIPAA -compliant fax service, your health care business can benefit from:
- Application Faxing for Business: Softlinx’s service features are specifically designed for business users, focusing on reliability and flexibility. For this purpose, our secure e-fax solution offers a full API toolkit to support organizations as they integrate the Replix® system into their existing workflows and applications. The APIs and sample codes are available, so your IT staff and developers can gain the information they need to integrate your system and automate essential processes so you can start sending secure fax files and documents directly from your established applications.
- Easy End-User Fax Tools: On top of the integration tools designed to ease the transition, the Softlinx system features numerous user-friendly faxing tools to support your business’s online faxing needs. These include a variety of fax processing tools, including email to fax, print to fax, web fax and MFP support. The result is an easy-to-use system that allows your users to send documents directly from business applications using a recipient email address.
- Fax Document Workflow: The Softlinx system has its own systems in place so your secure faxing solutions integrate seamlessly with your workflows. These include electronic filing, printing, metadata passing and barcode fax workflows, as well as integrated tracking and notification systems help to streamline your secure network fax processes.
- Cost-Saving Efficiency: Between reducing your hardware investments and minimizing involved labor, Softlinx can save your business money. By automating delivery, tracking and notification systems, and converting your fax system to a digital format, your business cuts costs while speeding up processes, all while maintaining security.
- Security and Compliance: Healthcare companies are required to maintain patient confidentiality by HIPAA and other regulations. To this end, Softlinx can help by providing a fax solution that is both HIPAA- and PCI-DSS compliant, using extensive data encryption to ensure your fax communication. The Replix® document and fax delivery service is hosted at an SSAE 16 audited data center with AES 256-bit encryption applied to all documents at rest. The system even uses SSL/TLS protocols over a secure communication link. Your health care business can rest easy knowing your data is handled with the utmost care.
- Constant Service and Support: We provide first-class support from a professional customer support team based out of the United States. With 24/7 service, we always stand ready to help you with your faxing and document delivery needs, from initial setup concerns to employee training. We guarantee only the best, with a service level agreement (SLA) for prompt problem resolution and a 99.9 percent uptime.
Learn more about how the Replix® HIPPA-compliant fax solution from Softlinx can help your health care organization reach new levels of productivity. Contact us today to schedule a live demo by calling at 1-800-899-7724 or by filling out our form.