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Why HIPAA Compliant Faxing Online is Needed

Why HIPAA Compliant Faxing Online is Needed

The healthcare industry of today relies heavily on the use of fax machines for communications. Fax machines provide a reliable and convenient way for healthcare organizations to send and receive patient information, which they have been doing for decades. Sending patient information via fax is also incredibly secure, so using fax for communication means those in the healthcare industry remain compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

Recently, faxing services have been switching to online cloud-based services and, according to the advice from mFax, using these services is still a great way for healthcare providers to remain HIPAA compliant. In fact, online faxing offers some major improvements over traditional fax machines that can help healthcare providers keep information more secure. These include the instant transfer of data, state-of-the-art data encryption, and instant delivery confirmations. 

Instant Data Transfer

Traditional fax machines transfer data using a store-and-forward method of managing information. This method involves the fax machine taking information from the sender and transferring it out to an intermediary before then transferring it to the receiving fax machine. The intermediary stores the fax information in the event that the recipient is not ready to receive a fax, such as when the fax machine is turned off. 

Data that is stored in a location, such as in the above scenario, is more susceptible to hacking. Online faxing offers the instant and uninterrupted transfer of information as well as cloud-based storage. This means that patient information is much less likely to be targeted during transmission. Most personal health information is stolen from physical storage devices, such as laptops and tablets. With cloud-based online faxing services, this information is not available on individual devices. 

Secure Data Encryption

HIPAA has laid out specific requirements for doctors and other healthcare providers to store and protect sensitive patient information, including health information and patient medical records. Usually, this involves making sure paper records are secure, including the use of tracking, logging movements, or locked and secure physical storage areas. Traditional fax machines usually need to have limited staff access with a detailed audit trail.

With cloud-based online faxing services, data encryption is the primary way that faxed information remains secure. Rather than relying on detailed audit trails, online faxing services use state-of-the-art data encryption to ensure patient information is only readable by the sender and intended recipient. These services usually include a heavily encrypted cloud-based storage system that ensures no one accidentally accesses information they are not supposed to see. 

Instant Delivery Confirmation

Traditional fax machines may take a while to confirm that information has been successfully received. Unfortunately, just because a fax has been confirmed as sent does not mean a person has seen the information on the other side. There can be delays in the transfer of information if the receiving fax machine is offline or busy, or the fax machine may have no one nearby to physically pick up the fax. 

With online faxing services, healthcare providers are offered a delivery confirmation instantly. Senders can be sure the information they faxed is viewed only by the intended recipient and is never left waiting to be received by an unavailable fax machine. This can help them avoid any potential HIPAA violations

The Bottom Line

Cloud-based online faxing is far more secure than using a traditional fax machine. When trying to remain HIPAA compliant, online faxing is the better option even if it is not yet required by law. Healthcare providers should consider transitioning to online faxing for better security and greater convenience today. 

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