HIPAA-Complaint PrognoFax Improves Workflow

Electronic Faxing Systems remain an integral part of the medical industry because they offer an efficient way to transfer informationFaxing, however, is not always secure. Major vulnerabilities can compromise a provider’s clinical data or patient health information (PHI)Here we’ll explain how faxing works and offer a method of HIPAA-Compliant faxing.  

What is Faxing, and Is It Secure?

Faxing is a process that scans a document, converts it into a picture file (TIF), and sends it to another fax machine or desktop application. Fax is typically sent through phone lines; a fax machine “calls” another fax machine and sends the information through. Many practices use fax machines, but most are unaware of the glaring vulnerabilities: 

Encryption

Traditional fax machines do not provide end to end encryption. However, most modern fax machines and online fax services offer encryption protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), to secure the transmission of faxed documents. TLS encrypts the data as it travels over the phone lines or the internet.

Physical Security

Fax machines are left on, making information available to anyone. Having fax machines located in secured or restricted areas helps to prevent unauthorized access to faxed documents.

Transmission Security

When using traditional fax machines, transmission occurs over telephone lines. However, it’s worth noting that fax transmissions can be intercepted by malicious parties if they have physical access to the phone line or using specialized equipment. The risk is low but not eliminated.

Human Error

Faxing errors can occur, such as sending documents to the wrong recipient or dialing the wrong fax number. These errors can compromise the security and privacy of medical records.

Paper Trail

Faxing generates a physical paper trail, with copies of the transmitted documents often remaining in the sending and receiving fax machine. Proper disposal of these documents is essential to ensure securely.

Encryption

Traditional fax machines do not provide end to end encryption. However, most modern fax machines and online fax services offer encryption protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), to secure the transmission of faxed documents. TLS encrypts the data as it travels over the phone lines or the internet.

Physical Security

Fax machines are left on, making information available to anyone. Having fax machines in secured or restricted areas helps prevent unauthorized access to faxed documents.

Transmission Security

When using traditional fax machines, transmission occurs over telephone lines. However, it’s worth noting that fax transmissions can be intercepted by malicious parties if they have physical access to the phone line or using specialized equipment. The risk is low but not eliminated.

Human Error

Faxing errors can occur, such as sending documents to the wrong recipient or dialing the wrong fax number. These errors can compromise the security and privacy of medical records.

Paper Trail

Faxing generates a physical paper trail, with copies of the transmitted documents often remaining in the sending and receiving fax machine. Proper disposal of these documents is essential to ensure securely.

Utilizing Electronic Faxing PrognoFAX

The vulnerabilities of regular faxing medical records are becoming a bigger issue because of the increased regulation of PHI. Using HIPAA-compliant methods of faxing such as using a Content Delivery Service (CDS) will protect your practice from breaches. A CDS is a third-party faxing service that stores your fax on a server and encrypts it when sent. Because your fax is on a server, you do not have to deal with common faxing problems such as machines being in use or offline, being out of paper or ink, or being out of memory for saving incoming faxes, because it is done electronically. 

As a PrognoCIS Productivity Feature, we offer PrognoFax a digital fax service. PrognoFax was developed to combat the fax content delivery vulnerabilities associated with delivery via telephony infrastructure. PrognoFax uses a Content Delivery service that takes content from PrognoCIS and delivers it to a PrognoCIS Content Delivery service partner.  The content is encrypted, enabling the CDS to deliver faxes to the end-user with a high degree of success. 

Prognofax increases productivity, as staff can fax online or via email without having to manually input through a fax machine. Users avoid costly fees for in-house fax servers and outdated fax machines. Prognofax (electronic faxing) is a cloud-based service, where users across the workplace can share and upload files. 

HIPAA Compliant Prognofax Improves Fax Management

Inbound Faxing: PrognoCIS uses two methods to receive faxes: from a fax machine or through a Content Delivery Service. The fax is then sent to our desktop application BizUpload, where BizUpload sends the content to a fax folder in our PrognoCIS attach center.  

Faxing with a fax machine is quite simple: The fax is sent from a fax machine to a computer. The fax machine sends the picture file (.TIF) and forwards it to a fax folder on your computer. The upload utility then moves the file from the designated upload folder to the Messages Attach folder within PrognoCIS. 

The relocated file is then found in a fax management folder in PrognoCIS under the Message > Attach listed under “Fax Folder” selected from the pull-down menu.  From there the office staff can properly label and move the file to the correct patient chart. 

Unlike regular faxing, eFax is a hybrid service much like PrognoFax, which utilizes an external Fax Content Delivery Provider to deliver content to an email account. This service provides a distinct advantage because the content is being delivered to a server that is on all the time. This enables the eFax user immunity to common problems associated with fax. When a user logs on to his email, the fax message is waiting for him to process. 

Delivering the fax first, a Fax Content Delivery Provider receives the inbound fax and converts it to an attachment. The attachment is linked to the recipient’s email address, and the content is sent via email.  The attachments are then stored in a folder set up for incoming faxes, transferred through an Upload utility into PrognoCIS. 

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Outbound Faxing

Outbound faxing occurs in the reverse manner inbound faxing does.  Once the message is composed, and a good fax number is provided, the content is ready to be sent. Content from PrognoCIS is sent via the BizFax utility onto and BizFax sends the content to the fax machine.

Outbound Faxing Method: PrognoFAX 

As previously stated, PrognoFax was developed to manage the EHR Fax content delivery challenges associated with delivery via telephone infrastructure.  PrognoFax uses a Content Delivery service.   That service takes content from PrognoCIS and delivers them to a PrognoCIS Content Delivery service partner. The content is sent in an encrypted format. That partner then manages the EMR Fax delivery to the end-user with a high degree of success. 

Electronic Fax Service - PrognoFax

FAQs

Several factors can determine the amount of time it takes to fax Medical Records for instance, the larger number of pages will take longerThe quality of the fax machine, newer high-speed fax machines send documents faster than older models. The transmission speed of the fax line or if the receiving fax machine is busy or has limited capacityAll in all, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to 15-20 minutes.  

Yes, Medical records can be faxed. Faxing is a common method of transmitting medical recordsHowever, to ensure that you remain HIPAA compliant when sending PHI by fax, you should take extra precautions to ensure that fax machines are kept in a secured location where only authorized personnel have access.  

  1. Verify the recipient is authorized to receive a fax and the fax number is correct.  
  2. Use a Cover Sheet that contains a confidentiality notice, the sender and recipient’s contact information, the date, and a total number of pages.  
  3. Place documents on a fax machine, dial correctly and wait for a confirmation that all pages have been sent. 
  4. Follow up with the recipient to confirm all pages have been received 
  5. Both the sending and receiving fax machines should be kept in a restricted area.  

Faxing medical records is not a HIPAA violation when done in compliance with HIPAA regulations to ensure the protection of the patient’s personal health information or PHI. 

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