Providers should look to hosted cloud for fax system upgrades
Note: This article is the third in a three-part series highlighting fully hosted cloud-based faxing solutions. The first piece covered the security benefits associated with fully hosted fax, and the second piece looked at how cloud-based fax improves reliability and disaster recovery.
System upgrades are a part of life for any enterprise. After all, it’s difficult for an organization to remain competitive and relevant if it’s using outdated technology. This is increasingly true in healthcare, where patients and clinicians alike have higher expectations than ever before for how care should be delivered and data should be shared. With consumer products and services seemingly available at their fingertips, it’s no surprise to want healthcare to behave the same way.
As previous posts in this series have discussed, fax still plays a critical role in healthcare communications. More than two-thirds of providers still use fax, due in no small part to technical and operational hurdles to sharing information directly within electronic health record (EHR) systems and security concerns about sending protected health information (PHI) via email.
Amid their efforts to modernize, organizations are moving away from paper-based faxing. It’s bad for the environment, it’s insecure, it doesn’t scale, and it’s increasingly difficult to manage and maintain.
In upgrading fax infrastructure, as with other technology decisions, organizations have a choice to make. Do they opt for fax that’s fully hosted onsite, fully in the cloud, or somewhere in the middle?
Onsite infrastructure, whether virtualized or hosted on physical servers, provides a centralized platform for managing and routing fax. This eliminates some of the biggest headaches associated with legacy fax – namely, maintaining physical fax machines that require analog telephone line connections and physically scanning paper documents into the EHR. It’s also a clear security improvement, as PHI isn’t sitting in a paper tray, easily accessible but hardly auditable.
While onsite fax infrastructure is a clear step up, it’s not without drawbacks. Cost is one concern. Acquiring servers and the software needed to run them, plus housing them onsite and providing the business continuity that’s essential for 24/7 healthcare communications, gets expensive quickly. So, too, does hiring IT staff to reboot and troubleshoot servers, and to keep servers up to date for security and compliance purposes. If hospitals are increasingly getting out of the data center business, why should fax solutions be fully onsite as well?
Hybrid cloud, in some ways, represents a step forward. It offers redundancy, which is critical to business continuity in healthcare. Secure offsite storage of documents that must be retained for legal reasons is also less expensive in the cloud.
However, organizations looking to fully upgrade their fax solution may find the hybrid model lacking. For starters, they must invest in both on-premises and cloud-hosted servers. Security also poses a concern, as moving documents from onsite to offsite servers (and back again) creates additional points of entry for cyberattacks. Along the same lines, document transmission and storage must be encrypted to remain in compliance with HIPAA and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. In many ways, the hybrid model leaves organizations paying the same bills twice—a hard cost to justify when operating margins are so tight.
A migration to fully hosted cloud-based fax can address these concerns. Hosted infrastructure gives organizations a “pay as you go” model, which eliminates the need to invest in hardware – or the software or personnel to maintain it. Cloud fax platforms also build uptime, minimum delivery times, and industry-leading standards for compliance and security into their service level agreements. This is above and beyond what most organizations will be capable of accomplishing onsite without significant investments in time, money, and resources.
As healthcare leaders inventory the mission-critical technology they have in place and identify solutions in need of an upgrade, fax is bound to be near the top of the list given its vital role in communication and data-sharing. In evaluating fax upgrade options, organizations need to consider a solution that will offer the benefits of uptime and compliance without the cost of infrastructure maintenance, along with the ability to scale as more capacity is needed. A fully hosted cloud fax solution can provide this peace of mind, helping organizations maintain constant communication while allocating in-house IT resources for the systems that need them most.
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.