Cloud fax solutions shine in disaster healthcare
Note: This article, the second in a three-part series highlighting fully hosted cloud-based faxing solutions, looks at how cloud-based fax improves reliability and disaster recovery. The first piece covered the security benefits associated with fully hosted fax, and the third piece will provide considerations for strategic system upgrades from a paper-based faxing system.
Communication is always critical to care delivery, but it’s even more important in a crisis. Regardless of what’s happening outside the hospital—fire, flood, or hurricane—clinical staff need fast access to information to provide the best care for patients in need. Leadership, meanwhile, needs to ensure that information is not only shared securely but retained properly, even when the going gets tough. Cloud fax can satisfy all of these needs.
As noted in part one of this series, fax is the preferred means of communication for roughly 70% of healthcare providers, due in large part to its security and reliability. How can healthcare organizations ensure that fax communication is available during a disaster and business operations aren’t disrupted?
Clearly, legacy infrastructure falls short. Fax machines or multifunction devices are unusable if phone lines are down and the power is out; they’re difficult to relocate and set up somewhere else if an organization opts for a temporary location. In addition, paper documents are vulnerable to damage from water, mold, fire or smoke, and redundant storage of paper documents presents expense and logistical challenges that often outweigh the benefits. It’s no surprise that fax and paper document management are often a glaring gap in organizations’ disaster recovery strategies.
Onsite enterprise fax solutions do represent a significant step forward. Documents can be sent and received on computers or mobile devices, and servers maintain digital copies of every record that’s sent. All faxes go through a single, centralized platform that’s much easier to manage than dozens of machines scattered through hospital departments. From there, documents can be integrated with patient records, making them available to entire care teams without the need for document scanning.
There are still several shortcomings to onsite enterprise fax. Servers are as location dependent as analog fax machines, so maintaining uptime during a disaster will still require physical access. This takes time and could put employees’ livelihood at risk, not to mention the patients who need to receive care. Broadening access to fax infrastructure in an emergency can help ensure business continuity. However, organizations risk HIPAA violations if unauthorized personnel have access to protected health information (PHI), even with the best of intentions.
As healthcare organizations continue to rely on fax communications, fully hosted cloud fax infrastructure is well positioned to meet their needs for day-to-day operations as well as during a crisis. Like onsite cloud, hosted cloud fax lets users send and receive information electronically, which is helpful when clinicians have been deployed to a location facing a patient surge or otherwise can’t visit their own offices and use their own computers.
But there are two key differences: Uptime and redundancy. Cloud fax providers have solid service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee 24/7 monitoring and support, along with 99.5% network uptime and HIPAA compliance. Few healthcare organizations have the resources or expertise to maintain this level of service with onsite fax infrastructure.
In addition, strong SLAs will provide access to geographically dispersed data centers. This enables redundancy for the servers sending, receiving and storing faxes, which is difficult to achieve on location for even the largest health systems. This also ensures that organizations can not only access fax communications during a crisis but can also store faxes per federal and state guidelines for medical records retention, meeting compliance requirements even in a crisis.
With fax communication continuing to play an important role in care delivery, it’s critical for organizations to establish a fax infrastructure that lets care continue in a crisis. Fully hosted cloud-based fax solutions bake disaster recovery and business continuity directly into their SLAs and their operating models, giving organizations peace of mind knowing that clinicians will have access to the information they need no matter the circumstances.
eFax Corporate is the world’s #1 online fax service and the leader in HIPAA-compliant, HITRUST CSF Certified, digital fax technology. We are part of J2 Global, Inc. (NASDAQ: JCOM) — a leading cloud services company with 24 consecutive fiscal years of revenue growth and over 3,100 employees in 50+ offices around the world.