Due to the need to facilitate patient document exchange throughout the technology maturation spectrum, organizations continue to include multiple—and often non-integrated—workflows, from paper-based processes to fully electronic data exchange.  Hospitals and health systems, particularly in rural areas, are looking to connect their entire communities. Implementing interoperable health IT data exchange can appear to be a leap across a technology chasm that could take years to accomplish. Since it’s clear that fax will be a healthcare reality for the foreseeable future, it’s up to the HIT community to find ways to meaningfully bridge the gap between the traditional paper-intensive model and 21st century interoperable data exchange. This bridge is called cloud fax.

With a cloud fax solution, resource-constrained healthcare organizations can easily move from paper-based processes with multiple workflows to an electronic patient document exchange model that facilitates HIPAA-compliant transmission of patient records directly into a patient’s EHR chart. No more sorting, scanning and faxing paper records to the referring physician’s office, who then repeats a similar labor-intensive process of sorting, scanning and now uploading to each individual patient’s EHR chart. This paper-based fax scenario involves non-secure transmission of patient data with maximum manual involvement, introducing opportunities for error and risk of personal health information (PHI) exposure.

The benefits of cloud fax go far beyond administrative efficiencies, empowering providers to take the first step towards modernizing document exchange throughout the care ecosystem. By leveraging electronic patient document exchange, healthcare providers will gain access to critical patient information at the point-of-care, supporting clinical decision-making and optimal patient outcomes.

To paraphrase Mr. Armstrong, although cloud fax may be one small step for healthcare organizations, it is indeed one giant leap for mankind — towards healthcare IT interoperability.