While many medical organizations have managed to not only survive but thrive in the challenging 21st century environment, more can be done to lower operating costs and improve productivity. Global trends show a definite shift away from a focus on market share toward protecting the bottom line — proactively managing net profit and margins. The same trends — which Deloitte claims are driving medical technology (MedTech) innovation, new players in the market, accelerating mergers and acquisitions, value-conscious consumer/patients, and a relentless push to drive down expenses — exert pressure on hospital administrators and practice decision-makers to re-evaluate their workflow and organizational policies.

As industry surveys and polls point to a growing interest in asset management, hospitals and clinics are looking for non-traditional solutions. Cloud-based technology is gaining popularity across all specialties as a mechanism to lower costs and improve patient services. For example, a 2014 telemedicine survey revealed 9 out of 10 healthcare leaders polled had begun implementing a telemedicine program to combat the shortage of intensivists and enhance care delivery with remote monitoring. The expected result was better asset allocation and improved operational efficiency.

There are myriad advantages of deploying cloud faxing technology to enhance collaborative care. Taking a closer look at how fax-over-Internet-protocol (FoIP) can boost productivity and reduce operating costs compared to legacy, paper-based fax systems clearly demonstrates the benefits of embracing leading edge technology to manage net profit and margins more effectively.

Evaluating Cloud Faxing Technology

Traditional fax — systems that involve scanning, sending, printing, distributing and filing documents — require human intervention throughout the chain of communication. An employee must be available to print and distribute incoming messages and documents. Protecting patient information requires thoughtful placement of machines to prevent unauthorized eyes from accessing sensitive information. Someone has to be responsible for routing or delivering incoming faxes to the appropriate department or employee. All of these activities cost medical organizations money and may interfere with patient engagement. On the other hand, FoIP enables 24/7 automated receipt and routing without continuous internal administration. There are other benefits, like the ones below.

1. Improving Accuracy, While Reducing Workload 

Fax technology is here to stay, but paper-based solutions are quickly becoming obsolete. Increased adoption of cloud fax services improves accuracy and reduces man-hours spent deciphering hand-written orders. Electronic orders — whether they are for prescription drug orders sent to a dispensing pharmacy or a spend request sent to the department head for approval — are fiscally responsible. Every step taken to make processes more efficient and accurate ultimately saves medical organizations money.

2. Cutting Operational Costs, While Improving Efficiency

According to cloud faxing service providers, medical organizations can reduce the cost per delivery by 50% compared to paper-based services. What’s more, processing fax orders is 75% faster than traditional methods.

3. Automating Communication Exchange

Automating mundane tasks and facilitating safe, secure health information exchange are both essential for healthcare providers. End-to-end coverage from test ordering to laboratory reporting to communicating results to patients and care team partners is a seamless process with cloud fax. Used in conjunction with proper protocol and electronic health record (EHR) systems, fax capabilities can even automate patient referrals and EHR updates, freeing staff to work on more pressing matters, such as spending more face time with patients.

4. Eco-Friendly, Budget-Conscious Document Management: Cloud-Faxing Tools

In addition to the many cost- and time-saving benefits like the ones mentioned above, cloud fax adoption enables medical facilities to exercise social responsibility by reducing their waste. Paper, toner, file folders and storage containers associated with legacy fax machines are unnecessary with Web-based fax services. Accessing specific information in an electronic archive is far easier and faster with cloud fax services because records are indexed and searchable.

Like other Internet-based resources, cloud fax services empower medical providers to manage their internal workflow more effectively to improve productivity. Reducing overhead is critical in today’s environment and cloud fax technology allows medical organizations to drastically reduce overhead associated with communication management processes and protocol. In a world where ICU care is supported by telemedicine and more doctors are embracing EHR to improve patient experiences, it is time more physicians and clinicians take another look at their traditional fax machines. It’s possible to positively impact margins while improving patient outcomes and care delivery models.

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As U.S. Chief Operating Officer at Esker, Steve Smith is responsible for all operations in North, South, and Central America. Esker is a global leader in business process automation, helping organizations around the world automate their manual business processes. Through Esker’s variety of software packages, businesses are able to increase their workflow and productivity via the cloud.

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