Security, privacy and regulatory compliance are the key factors driving uptake of cloud fax in healthcare
Monday 18 July 2022 – Cloud-based fax is playing an essential role in the day-to-day transmission of sensitive and confidential information across multiple sectors – including healthcare – thanks to its high levels of security and privacy, together with the need by organisations to be fully compliant with a range of data regulations, according to a survey of 1000 senior IT and business decision makers in the UK and Europe by eFax, the global provider of digital fax services.
The poll of senior executives in large enterprises, small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and public sector organisations found that 62 percent of healthcare organisations surveyed identified security as critical to their decision to migrate to cloud-based fax systems, with 21 percent describing the technology as “extremely” secure.
Among fax users in healthcare, 37 percent use cloud-based fax systems, while 21 percent use a combination of cloud and traditional faxing. 17 percent remain wedded to the traditional fax machine.
At the same time, 42 percent of healthcare organisations surveyed said they send and receive confidential documents via password protected emails. 25 percent said they use email encrypted software.
Commenting on the survey findings, Scott Wilson, Vice President of Sales and Service at eFax, said, “Despite being more than 40 years old, fax technology continues to be used by the healthcare sector for the transmission of important documents, such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs) containing patients’ medical records, test results, X-Rays and other scans.
“Patient information is increasingly digitalised. People also want direct access to their health records, which is why Electronic Health Records are so important. The question for healthcare providers is how to send and receive these records in a way that is safe and secure,” he continued.
“It’s clear that email is the established and widely accepted format for most communications, but it’s flawed and vulnerable to interception and hacking,” explained Wilson. “Cloud faxing is more secure than email – not least because fax infrastructure has limited exposure to the internet and internet connected devices.”
eFax identified the following factors as the reasons for faxing’s ongoing value and importance to healthcare organisations:
- Security – Data security and privacy relating to patient records is a serious responsibility for every healthcare provider, especially at a time when cyber criminals are targeting the healthcare sector. Healthcare organisations need to use highly secure communications systems that are not vulnerable to internal and external attack, including ransomware threats.
- Privacy – The misuse of confidential medical data is an ongoing concern for patients. As well as being highly secure, fax also ensures that any record or document that is sent is accurately date- and time- stamped and therefore auditable.
- Regulation In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)’s privacy laws and human rights protections include the creation and destruction of patient information. To be fully GDPR-compliant, any communications system must ensure that patient information is protected.
In the US, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets out clear guidelines to ensure compliance related to the security and management of confidential information. Healthcare professionals must be compliant and ensure that they do not compromise patient information.
- Exchange – In Europe, the European Commission (EC) has installed an exchange format for EHRs so that patients can access and exchange their medical records between EU member states. Healthcare providers in Europe therefore need a safe, secure, and compliant communications format for transmitting patient records not just from one hospital to another, but also one country to another.
eFax shares the findings of the study for the healthcare sector in a new downloadable ebook entitled, “The secret life of the fax – Healthcare”, which is available to download from the eFax website here.