The eFax Blog

How Online Fax Services Can Help the Healthcare Industry

July 11, 2019 - by eFax Team

Is your healthcare organisation still using old-fashioned fax machines to transmit documentation? eFax discusses exactly why the future of faxing is in the digital world, and how you can start experiencing the benefits of online cloud faxing today.

Article overview:

The Problem with Fax Machines

Many organisations operating in healthcare continue to use fax machines to transmit documents. The technology, however, is outdated and needs replacing.

The problems that you may experience if you carry on using fax machines include:

  • Issues with data security and compliance
  • Ineffective, inefficient and costly working practices
  • Difficulty with communication as other healthcare organisations develop digital solutions.

Removal of fax machines and the adoption of new communication technology in its place has numerous benefits, but faxing is so widespread within the healthcare sector that you cannot be without it.

What is the solution?


The eFax Solution

eFax online cloud faxing offers your healthcare organisation the opportunity to maintain fax functionality while ditching the fax machine for a more technologically advanced option.

Integration of our services into your healthcare practice or business affords many major advantages, such as:

  • Improved document security and compliance with NHS Digital and the CQC
  • The streamlining of your workplace and reduction in resource expenditure
  • Future proofing your healthcare organisation against upcoming changes within the sector.

Making the change from physical fax machines to eFax online solutions is quick, simple and cost-effective.


Learn More! Read the Full Story Below


Faxing and the Healthcare Industry

Working within the healthcare industry you will be aware of the constraints set upon it by a continued reliance on the need to transmit fax documentation. 9,000 fax machine units are still used within the NHS alone — with many more required by third-party organisations that work with the service. It is an inescapable truth that if you want to work with the NHS, as most healthcare organisations in the UK do at some point, you’ll need to integrate a faxing system into your business or practice.

Faxing is a deep-rooted part of the NHS’s infrastructure, and, therefore, the health and social care sector as a whole. However, continuing to commit to using an old-fashioned fax machine for faxing does present a myriad of problems.

Worker frustrated by fax machine

The Problem with Fax Machines

The use of a fax machine presents your healthcare organisation with a myriad of potential problems and difficulties. So many, in fact, that the Healthcare Secretary Matt Hancock warned against the use of the “downright dangerous” technology.

Physical fax machines are known to be unsecure — allowing for vulnerabilities to cyber attacks and reducing the effectiveness of data security measures in healthcare by presenting issues such as a lack of encryption and the potential for unauthorised access to documentation. They are also woefully ineffective in terms of absorbing time and resources, and they don’t allow for flexibility, including remote working or mass transmission of documentation.

This list of issues with the use of fax machines goes on and on.

The fact that faxing as a practice is deeply entrenched within the healthcare industry aside, it is both useful and essential. So if you can’t ditch faxing, yet the fax machine is causing your healthcare organisation to experience an array of disadvantages, what options do you have?

What Is Online Cloud Faxing?

Online cloud-faxing solutions offered by services like eFax take the process of faxing and adapt them to the modern day. Your files are all transmitted through digital platforms — both via mobile applications and online portals — instead of being sent and received as paper documents.

Online cloud faxing allows for sending files to, and receiving files from, a physical fax machine (even if you don’t own one yourself) transmitting e-signatures and signed documents, and experiencing higher levels of online security.

How eFax Can Aid Data Security Measures in Healthcare and Support the Future of Your Organisation

Representation of the future of healthcare

Adopting online cloud-faxing processes and removing physical fax machines from your healthcare organisation can afford you a number of benefits. The technology exists purely to improve outdated practices and offer solutions to problems and inadequacies posed by the commonly used hardware.

What changes can you expect to see, and what benefits can you expect to experience, when switching from fax machines to eFax online cloud faxing?

Fast and Immediate Streamlining of the Workplace

Fax machines are resource pits. In order to operate them, they require a surprisingly vast investment of money. Consider first the amount of paper, ink and toner consumed by your machine, and the costs of repairs and maintenance it requires. Then, the financial implications of the time spent by staff using a fax machine must also be taken into account.

The average employee spends about 15 seconds just walking over to a fax machine to send a document. A few documents a day and that’s minutes lost. Over years, that’s hours of time. Add on top of that the sheer quantity of time needed to manually input every single page of a file that must be sent — which can be very large, especially when concerning patients — and the transmission period of the actual document (one minute per page) and you have an entirely inefficient and completely non-cost-effective process. Workers may also have to queue up and wait to use the unit, only increasing time wasted, and this doesn’t even account for time lost due to signal problems and outages.

Online cloud faxing completely transforms this routine of resource waste. Available on smart devices and computers, there is no need to spend time moving between workplace and fax machine, no time lost waiting and, as long as WiFi is available, an extremely low risk of outages. There is also no expense required on paper, ink or maintenance, as all files are stored in a digital space, whether they are sent or received. Last, and perhaps most important of all, large files can be quickly transferred as single documents, attached and submitted in moments.

With all these benefits combined, your healthcare organisation will see immediate boosts to workplace efficiency and the long-term driving down of costs associated with faxing. If the use of a fax machine is a major part of your communication processes, this could make a massive difference.

Improve Data Security

The importance of data security measures in healthcare cannot be understated. Maintaining secure records and keeping information confidential is essential. Not only is it a core part of remaining compliant with new GDPR laws, but failure in this area can result in major black marks against your business or practice. Fax machines, however, can make data security a challenge, and the use of the technology results in certain vulnerabilities:

  • Human error in terms of fax transmission is common. One of the top causes of data breaches in the UK is accidental submission of documentation to the wrong recipient through the misdialing of fax numbers. The result is exposure of potentially sensitive data to inappropriate parties.
  • When a fax is transmitted to a fax machine, it becomes accessible to any individual who can also access the machine. This could be any member of your staff, or even patients or clients in the vicinity of the machine at the time. Again, this risks exposure of confidential data, as the documents are not secured from unauthorised viewing.
  • Fax machines do not feature comprehensive data encryption when transmitting files, which means parts of the process are vulnerable to hacking and cybercrime. Files can be stolen or damaged during these vulnerable stages.
  • Documentation transfers resulting from fax machine use means the storage and management of paper documents, which themselves are more vulnerable to data protection problems due to the way they are stored and accessed.

Online cloud faxing addresses these issues and improves security by actively working to reduce their impact:

  • Sending documents to the wrong recipient and risking exposure to unauthorised parties becomes a lot more difficult, as you no longer dial numbers, instead transmitting files through pre-approved contacts.
  • Fax documents are received and stored on eFax cloud-based servers, and held behind logins and access controls. Files don’t sit in paper trays waiting to be taken, which means only those given access to the documents can view them.
  • Data transmitted through online cloud faxing is encrypted throughout the entire process, removing weaknesses in the chain and lowering the chance of documents being accessed by cybercriminals.
  • As all documents are received in a digital format — whether they are sent to you from a physical fax machine or not — there is no paper to store, eliminating the risk factors associated with physical files.

Aid NHS Digital and CQC Compliance

Those who want to work within the NHS, or already do, must ensure compliance with both NHS Digital and the CQC (Care Quality Commission). Both organisations manage and maintain a number of different elements of patient safety and security for the NHS. If you fail to meet their required standards, you are unable to create a working relationship with the National Healthcare Service.

Fax machines present problems when it comes to compliance with both governing bodies. Among other things, NHS Digital is concerned with patient security measures in healthcare. If your practices do not meet the standards set out in these regulations, you won’t achieve high enough levels of compliance. Fax machines, as noted above, place a series of risk factors on data protection and patient confidentiality, leading to potential breaches of NHS Digital compliance.

In terms of meeting guidelines set out by the CQC, its objective is clear: the CQC inspects and monitors all manner of operations carried out by healthcare organisations working with or within the NHS, and that includes the management of patient files and data. The CQC audits your records and makes sure they are meeting standards of information governance set out by organisations such as NHS Digital. Physical fax machines create paper documents, which can be difficult to locate and store, and are often misplaced or lost. This makes provision of information to CQC a challenge, which can risk compliance and working relationships with the NHS.

eFax online cloud faxing aids compliance with both NHS Digital and the CQC in two ways:

  • It improves security around documentation, helping your organisation better meet safety standards required by NHS Digital
  • It allows you to place all documentation within a digital centralised management system, stored on our cloud-based servers, for easy access. This ensures files are easily accessible for the CQC when it comes to audits.

Future Proof Your Healthcare Organisation

There are three major changes heading towards your healthcare organisation in the future — three changes that are directly impacted by your use of a fax machine.

The first is the NHS Paperless 2020 directive. Established by NHS Digital as part of its push towards a more interconnected and modern healthcare system, the campaign will see NHS practices going completely paperless, with documentation all managed over digital formats. Stages of the initiative are already being rolled out, with trusts no longer accepting paper patient referrals — only digital ones. Continued use of a fax machine puts your healthcare organisation at odds with the Paperless 2020 goal and could leave you unable to communicate with other organisations that have already moved towards the target.

The second upcoming change is the 2025 analogue switch off commissioned by British Telecoms. The nationwide telecommunications provider is set to remove all analogue services by the year 2025, which means fax machines will no longer work using standard telephone lines as they do now. Options are available to switch to VoIP transmissions following the change, but these protocols present a number of their own issues for faxing.

Finally, and most significantly for fax machine users, the NHS is set to ban the purchase of fax machines across its trusts and practices as of January 2019, with the government targeting a complete removal of the technology by March 2020.

By making the switch to eFax online cloud faxing, you avoid any complications associated with either of the upcoming changes. eFax helps you move to a paperless working environment, while our online services mean you no longer need to rely on analogue transmissions to submit fax documents.

A Quick Guide to Upgrading Your Fax Systems to eFax Online Cloud Faxing

Switching from physical fax machines to eFax’s online cloud-faxing solutions could not be easier. Access to our services is immediate and you don’t need any new hardware, software or training to get started. We’ll also port over all your old fax numbers, meaning you won’t have to update your phone systems or even tell your clients or patients that you’ve made the switch. All messages sent to your old systems will automatically be submitted to your eFax account.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t!

The process of upgrading to your new and more advanced form of faxing is simple. These are the only steps you need to follow:

  1. Sign up to eFax and begin your 30-day free trial
  2. Register your new fax number with us
  3. Download our bespoke applications to your smart devices and computer systems
  4. Login using your new eFax details
  5. Throw out your fax machine and start online cloud faxing instantly!

It really is that easy. No fuss. No difficult switchover processes. eFax is designed to get you online and faxing quickly without any trouble. Give your healthcare organisation the solutions it needs to move into the future and improve data security measures in healthcare today.

Try eFax without commitment or contract for 30 days, absolutely free. Get instant access to our complete range of services and discover exactly how our online cloud-faxing solutions can transform the way you share and transmit healthcare documents and files.