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Fax in the News – A Better Way to Share Medical Records

March 19, 2015

A local NPR affiliate recounts some disturbing disconnects between users of ostensibly electronic health records:

Technology entrepreneur Jonathan Bush says he was recently watching a patient move from a hospital to a nursing home. The patient’s information was in an electronic medical record, or EMR. And getting the patient’s records from the hospital to the nursing home, Bush says, wasn’t exactly drag and drop.

“These two guys then type — I kid you not — the printout from the brand new EMR into their EMR, so that their fax server can fax it to the bloody nursing home,” Bush says.

(Proper fax server implementation could have prevented this situation. But more on that in a moment!)

Measures like the HITECH Act have led to $30 billion in public support for EMR adoption since 2009. However, whereas a certain EMR may make communications a breeze within the institution, it does not necessarily help communication with institutions using different software. As Medicare incentives for efficient communication (e.g., avoiding duplicate tests) continue to grow, and general demand for inter-compatible records increases likewise, the door has been flung open for newer, cloud-based EMR vendors.

However, federal interoperability standards remain years away, which means health care providers must find other, more cost-effective solutions in the meantime. For many of our clients, this involves the use of secure health care fax servers or services—albeit far more strategically than described in the quote above.

Native fax server integrations are available for practically all major EMRs, like Cerner, Epic, GE/IDX, and NextGen (among dozens of others). Most importantly, these integrations allow users to receive faxes directly into the software, which eliminates the need for printing or hand-entering data. So, instead of dealing with paper in the example from earlier, the hospital could have:

  1. Received a fax electronically, no printouts required
  2. Automatically routed that fax into its EMR (even into a specific patient file, after recognizing barcodes or other unique identifiers)
  3. Automatically sent the fax to the nursing home’s EMR (which could benefit from a similar workflow of its own)

Now that’s more like it. And if paper is simply inevitable—perhaps as part of a billing or patient registration workflow—its data can still be automatically captured and extracted. Long story sort, there is simply no reason to remain captive to paper while awaiting universal EMR standards. To learn more, simply contact us to schedule a complimentary health care fax consultation or workflow review at your convenience.

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