Fax Machines in the 21st Century

There was a time when fax machines provided a great service.  The technology called fax machines was new in the late ‘80s but now that it’s 2012 the word obsolete comes to mind.  Many have called for the prohibition of faxes and there have been lawsuits related to errors in faxed documents.

We have EMRs and newer technology today and using these devices coupled with the fax can be done with an updated style.  Fax machines have been a vital piece of business equipment for many years.  But the amount of incoming fax traffic along with outbound faxes has escalated.

A medical office can sort these into two categories:

Medically related faxes and unsolicited junk.

Medically related faxes are received from insurance carriers, pharmacy mail-order companies, nursing homes, hospitals, home health agencies and other doctors’ offices.  Junk faxes come from stockbrokers, cruise lines, restaurants and real estate firms etc.

One solution that we recommend is digital faxes.  This requires both a computer hooked up to a phone line and a computer program to digitally process the inbound/outbound faxes.  These programs allow you to receive and send faxes digitally.  It is also compatible with EMRs like Medisoft Clinical and Practice Partner.  There are numerous programs on the market that have this capability.

A staff member can monitor all incoming faxes and review and forward the fax to the appropriate person.  Junk faxes can be promptly moved to a virtual trash can, never getting the chance to waste paper or toner.  Any patient-related faxes can be checked against the patient’s electronic record.

 

Once a cover page is setup on each computer you can add all the phone numbers you commonly use.  By setting up a “letterhead,” you can attach a digital signature to forms you may use in the practice.

Now that you have the volume of paper under control, we suggest you inform your partners diplomatically how things will be in the future.

Mail-order pharmacies.  These can be big abusers of faxing.  They like to send formulary changes.  Inform them to have the patient contact you for an appointment.

Hospital interactions.  Create order and requisition forms using the fax software that can be filled out in the EMR and digitally signed when faxed.

Medical Record.  In an EMR equipped office, responding to records requests no longer should involve sorting through and photocopying a chart.  Instead, you can electronically select the EMR portion requested and digitally fax it to the office that needs it.

Moving to digital faxing will increase your efficiency and reduce office costs.  This is an excellent way to remove more of the paper from your system.

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