Once upon a time, if you wanted to send a copy of a document, a human messenger performed all steps of the operation. Fax machines seemed like a tremendous step forward, and then there was another leap with electronic fax servers, but then progress seemed to stagnate. Today, there are solutions that are equally ground-breaking. If your organization is still relying on dedicated fax machines and/or electronic faxing without appropriate management tools, that may be why you are still struggling with fax inefficiency.
Systems designed around managing hard copy have a number of inherent problems - they are typically inefficient, and the true security is often sadly lacking. While paper faxes are considered HIPAA compliant, the reality is that sensitive faxes sit on a desk or in a busy hallway, available to anyone. A dedicated, fixed fax machine requires paper management – check the machine for incoming faxes, make sure they're routed to the correct area or person, file the hard copies, keep the machine supplied with paper – and the list goes on. Many of these introduce the potential for human error. For example, someone picks up multiple faxes and your document is in the middle, so it goes to the wrong desk. The paper copy is misfiled or thrown away, or duplicate copies are filed in different areas. All of these activities cost you money, waste time and bog down your work processes. A document management system can solve many problems with fax management.
Corporate compliance is a major issue in any organization, but it's particularly important in healthcare because of the security issues surrounding patients' health, financial and personal information. Fax security and compliance issues are hot buttons in those organizations using dedicated fax machines, which is why many choose to go paperless with an electronic fax server . But receiving and storing faxes in decentralized email inboxes creates a new type of privacy challenge. Ongoing risk assessment is mandatory to ensure your organization can be assured that the privacy and security of transmitted and archive data meets compliance standards. Evaluate every step in your process and build a security strategy based on your baseline findings. Once you've implemented changes, reassess periodically (at least once a year) to ensure the system is functioning properly and meeting compliance requirements. Your strategy should address: process control; information integrity; privacy; document archiving and a tracking, reporting and audit trail.
If you were to design the perfect fax management system, what would it look like? Each organization has different needs, but there are some commonalities. Automating processes whenever possible should be at the top of the list. Are faxes received and easily accessible in a centralized location? Can you easily manage multiple lines through a common portal? Is the information you need immediately available? Does the management system alert you to incoming faxes? Can you organize and manage your documents electronically? How secure is your data? How can you assign faxes to employees for follow up? At a minimum, your system should:
Although compliance issues drive many issues surrounding fax management, efficient systems that prevent your staff from wasting time are equally as important. Your organization must have a well-crafted information exchange strategy in place. An enterprise fax software system can help you resolve fax management issues and improve organizational productivity if you assess your needs, choose carefully and ensure that the system is properly implemented. Don't forget to reassess the technological backbone of the system as well as the related work processes on a regular basis or as compliance requirements change to safeguard your organization.
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