In this article, we continue exploring how cloud fax and remote communications play a key role in the economic response to COVID-19.
The Way We Work Has Changed: Now What?
The social distancing response to COVID-19 is moving portions of the workforce away from the office and facility settings into remote or work-from-home (WFH) environments. For healthcare organizations, team members now working from home include clinicians offering telehealth services, case managers, administrators, financial and IT teams, and others contributing away from the frontlines of care.
As coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, companies are coming to terms with a future of work that bears no resemblance to past work practices — and many are revisiting their plans of how quickly to advance their digital business process goals.
Working from home is a critical weapon in our fight against COVID-19 and future pandemics. With the right infrastructure and the support for secure and reliable document and information transmission, remote-first environments can be as or more productive than traditional office-based settings.
Remote Work Requires a Secure and Dependable Infrastructure
An important key for success in a remote-first environment is a stable, reliable, and secure connection for communications and document transmission. Organizations that effectively support team members during the pandemic will build trust, loyalty, and engagement between management and those “in the trenches.” Leadership can use this challenging time to demonstrate they care not just about team members’ work but also about them as humans, boosting engagement and confidence. Organizations may also learn they can be more flexible and remote-friendly than they thought while maintaining standards and reaching goals.
For healthcare facilities, the need to remain open for patients is paramount; in order to do this safely, many healthcare organizations have opted to send non-clinical staff to work-from-home during this time. In theory, administrative tasks in healthcare, such as appointment scheduling, referrals processing, insurance filing, and more, are ideal for efficient offsite workers. However, just because it is possible to handle these tasks outside the traditional healthcare setting, does not mean that doing so is easy.
Though the healthcare industry has adopted incredibly advanced technology in some areas, in others it lags behind the curve; this includes the exchange of data between teams and the integration of that same data into EHRs or other systems. The fact of the matter is, fully 90% of healthcare organizations today rely on older, stand-alone fax machines for at least some of their communication transactions.
Interoperability and Data
Dealing with the headache of a fax machine is one thing, but a sudden lack of access to that same machine is quite another—and that is the challenge facing healthcare organizations with non-clinical staff trying to work remotely. When access to physical paper documents is necessary for administrative tasks, it becomes incredibly difficult to complete those tasks on a remote basis. The reality that the COVID-19 crisis has forced upon so many organizations is that innovative collaboration tools for teams that are not physically together will continue to be increasingly more important for years to come. For healthcare organizations, which are traditionally so reliant on paper, moving away from physical document handling will be crucial.
To securely send and receive unstructured data such as patient records, medical forms, authorizations, prescriptions, and insurance claims with guaranteed delivery, healthcare organizations need a solution that is digital and direct. By extending legacy devices to a secure exchange network that is HIPAA, PCI DSS, and SOC 2 compliant, organizations can ensure that PHI remains safe between fax servers and integrated applications. Direct digital faxing also guarantees that communications never traverse an external telephone network.
In addition, a hybrid cloud-fax network can provide end-to-end encryption to guarantee that PHI and business-critical data is secure the moment it leaves the sending device or application until the receiving party accepts and validates it.
While the lack of interoperability remains a huge challenge for healthcare and government industries, cloud-based fax solutions offer the flexibility to integrate with today’s popular fax servers as well as with mobile applications and third-party messaging platforms, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. With the ability to send and receive any document or file securely between applications and platforms, medical providers can fuel healthcare innovation to improve patient care, and government agencies can streamline social services to serve communities better.
The Digital Future of Handling Documents
Faxing has been an integral part of many organizations’ business communications for decades, and no wonder. It supports key workflows and remains a trusted method of sharing sensitive information—a critical consideration for companies in which security and compliance are paramount. Fax promises to be with us for some time to come, but traditional paper fax methods are actively hindering business performance. As COVID-19 continues to make digital transformation more than a nice-to-have, cloud fax provides an easy first step in modernizing IT and administrative departments; adoption of cloud fax delivers a quick win to the business by supporting security and compliance, cutting costs, and boosting productivity. Beyond that, a reliable enterprise cloud fax solution that eliminates the shortcomings of traditional fax systems can actively improve customer satisfaction and reduce time to revenue, affecting the bottom line of businesses. Cloud fax offers an easy transition for remote working, building upon understood and trusted workflows enabled by on premise servers and the traditional fax machine. Future organizations will continue to have need for highly secure methods of document exchange, and services such as cloud fax will become an essential fixture in our future and a vital first step in the longer journey towards full digital transformation.Brenda Hopkins