Healthcare IT Today published an article New Healthcare Interoperability Solution Leverages Age-Old Technology that takes a strong look at fax in healthcare. The author features J2 Global’s Consensus product as the leading example for using fax as the foundation for interoperability to transition healthcare organizations to electronic workflows. Consensus combines the eFax corporate fax network from J2 Global with Kno2’s interoperability connections including Carequality, Direct Secure Messaging, Referral Networks, and HIE’s. Below is a summary of the article.
We may scoff at fax technology, but it remains one of the lowest-cost, lowest barrier ways to exchange patient records. Despite repeated attempts to axe-the-fax in healthcare, it continues to be relied upon by healthcare organizations. J2 Global’s Consensus interoperability solution leans into and leverages this age-old technology to help organizations more easily (and securely) send and receive patient information while layering on new technologies liked Direct Messaging as they’re available.
Fax Usage Increasing in Healthcare
Many healthcare organizations still rely on fax machines as their primary way to send patient information to other providers external to their network. In fact, the use of fax for data exchange in healthcare is increasing. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) State of Interoperability among U.S. Non-federal Acute Care Hospitals in 2018 Report, released in March 2020, shows 5% increase in the use of mail or fax for sending summary of care records from 2017 to 2018:
|Send summary of care records by mail or fax||66%||71%||+5%|
|Receive summary of care records by mail or fax||73%||76%||+3%|
|Send summary of care records by efax using EHR||63%||66%||+3%|
|Receive summary of care records by efax using EHR||45%||52%||+7%|
At first glance this rise in fax usage is perplexing. By 2017, the ONC reported that 96% of acute care hospitals had adopted an EHR. However, we all know that the guidelines for certified EHRs at the time did not have provisions for seamless data exchange. As a result, we ended up with electronic data silos in healthcare and the current interoperability challenge.
Using Fax as the Foundation for Interoperability
Recently J2 Global, a leading provider of Cloud Fax solutions to healthcare, announced the release of their new Consensus Interoperability Platform. The platform offers a “comprehensive connection with a simple, inbox-like dashboard to manage all incoming and outgoing patient documents”.
According to Nebergall, Consensus allows for:
- Digital cloud faxing
- Direct secure messaging, leveraging the DirectTrust network that has over 2 million provider addresses
- Patient queries via Carequality and CommonWell Health Alliance
- Connectivity to referral networks, ACOs, community + state exchanges and HIEs
“To end-users, the Consensus dashboard makes it appear as if you are sending a fax,” explained Nebergall. “You type in the recipient’s fax number, select your document and press SEND. Behind the scenes, the platform looks up that fax number and determines if there is a better method to transmit the information. That could be via a Direct Message via DirectTrust. It could even be delivered via an API to the recipient’s EHR. Of course it could also be to an actual fax number.”
Strong Partnerships Make It Possible
“J2 Global is sending a strong message to the healthcare community, government agencies and other health technology vendors that the dominant player in cloud fax in the US is committed to driving interoperability to the benefit of all.” said Kno2 CEO Jon Elwell. “Meaningful Use and the billions of dollars invested did not accomplish the goal. Fax still remains. That is why Kno2 has always focused on the fax machine as the starting point for the ultimate conversion to interoperability. We are excited to partner with J2 Global to bring Consensus, connected by Kno2 to healthcare. Both organizations are aligned and believe in this technology.”
Author: Colin Hung