Technology has made so many parts of everyday life easier, especially around communications. It’s easy to send just about any type of document you need via email or text. Yet, there is still the widespread use of faxing in healthcare. Healthcare can use robots for surgery and reattach hands, but when it comes to paperwork, the 1980s facsimile is still the go to. And while it’s still a necessary evil that doesn’t mean faxing should disrupt your healthcare workflow.
Fax still wins as the dominant channel, with experts believing about 75% of all medical communications are still sent via fax. Why are organizations holding onto this relic? They don’t have much choice.Practices and organizations haven’t eliminated the fax, so that means most all in the industry have to still support it. There are not standards built into healthcare that demand everyone has to be on the same technology level for compatibility. Thus, there are varying degrees of advancement. The electronic health record (EHR) has wide adoption as the source of truth for a patient, but that doesn’t mean that all information is a simple upload to the EHR, not when faxing must be considered. This adoption was spurred by the Obama administration's spend of over $30 billion to encourage hospitals and practices to switch from paper to electronic records. This campaign was successful with hospitals using electronic records at 83% in 2015 as compared to only 9% in 2008. While this is a huge accomplishment, the program did not address a critical need, sharing or interoperability. Hospitals and practices generally still have major challenges with the ability to electronically transfer information to other facilities. One electronic system can’t communicate with another, resulting in the need to print and fax. The lack of interoperability causes this need to still rely on faxing. The other issue here is that sometimes organizations don’t want to share data with competing organizations. They have little incentive to ditch the fax and be electronic friendly.
Faxing offers a channel to share information with other providers, for a variety of reasons like referrals, surgery, labs, admissions, and transfers. Instead of this being a quick send and request digitally, it may take considerable time to put together all the records that the other provider will need to be see in order to treat the patient. This results in a healthcare workflow with lots of detours.
When discharging a patient from the hospital, faxing of paperwork may be necessary. This adds time to the process, which is inefficient and increases costs. Surgery scheduling happens by fax, so the sooner the documents are in the scheduler’s hands the better. Then there are the results from labs. Some of the larger labs offer transmittal to the EHR. However, many still rely on faxing. These then have to be manually added to the EHR. This means clinicians may spend a lot of time transcribing records instead of focusing on patient care.
Those in the home health field certainly need a solution to faxing. If they are in the field and need to send new orders, referrals or test results to physicians, they obviously don’t have access to a fax machine. The dependence on faxing could cause huge delays in the care arrangements.
In this scenario, referrals are sent to specialists. Along with the referral would be the necessary patient documents. Faxing slows down the referral process, but it can also add issues for patients. When they arrive for the referral, the records may have only delivered some of the information or it could be illegible. So, does the new doctor run the same tests? Does the patient have to reschedule?
It seems that faxing can’t be completely eliminated, but there is a way to stay fax friendly without ever using the equipment again. QliqSOFT introduces its newest clinical collaboration solution, Snap & Fax, which allows users to create and fax patient documents directly from the Qliq secure texting app. Snap & Fax works with your existing fax system, including RightFax and automatically imports transmissions into the EHR, eliminating the need for paper copies.Get your healthcare workflow back on track without the fax machine. Snap & Fax is simple: snap the image, select the contacts and send the fax. Don't let paperwork get in the way of patient care. Discover new tools for old challenges with Snap & Fax. Easy, simple, and compliant, Snap & Fax allows clinicians to respond to requests and facilitate better care. Find out more about how Snap & Fax can streamline healthcare workflows today.
A lifelong communicator, this Tennessee native got his start in broadcast news before branching out into public media, corporate, communications, digital advertising, and integrated marketing. Prior to joining QliqSOFT as the company's first marketing team member, Ben shared his talents with organizations that include the University of Alabama, iHeartMedia, and The Kroger Company.
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