As a doctor, how many times a day would you send or receive a fax? Pathology results, specialist referrals, hospital discharge forms, and even Medicare communications - they all go by fax more than any other method.
Like it or not, fax is an essential communication tool in hospitals and medical practices. Fax is ingrained in convention, to the point that doctors simply can’t do without it.
While nearly all medical professionals use it, fax certainly has its frustrations. Paper jams, busy signals, changing toner cartridges, missing pages and questionable patient privacy, to name a few.
Now we add the latest kicker to the list of frustrations: traditional fax doesn’t work with the NBN™.
All you need to know is: there’s a better way to fax.
Welcome to the world of online fax.
What is online fax?
Online faxing (aka ‘digital faxing’) is a way of sending and receiving faxes via the internet, without the use (or inconvenience) of a traditional fax machine. You still have a normal fax number and you can even keep your existing fax number. Everyone can still exchange faxes with you just as they always did. The only difference is that, on your end, everything is digital.
Instead of using a fax machine to send and receive faxes, you use your computer, tablet or mobile. In other words, with online fax, you can send and receive faxes in much the same way you do email. All you need is an internet connection and you’re good to go.
But for the record, not all internet connections are created equal when it comes to traditional fax:
The prognosis is bad for traditional fax on the NBN™
Unfortunately, while the NBN™ rollout will (theoretically) make your internet faster, it will also turn your traditional fax machine into nothing more than an expensive paperweight.
When you get the NBN™ your phone line will become digital, and because your traditional fax machine is purely analog, it will simply stop working.
You may be able to find a suitable workaround, such as an adapter or a VoIP provider . But both workaround options are fiddly and take a lot of patience - that’s time you need to spend caring for patients instead.
The good news is: online fax works with the NBN™. So by moving to online fax, you’ll be able to focus on your core business – looking after your patients’ health.
Benefits of online fax for doctors in private practice
For starters, online fax isn’t tied to a physical location like a traditional fax machine. This means you can receive faxes anywhere you have an internet connection - similar to logging in to a webmail system.
Let’s say you’re a geriatrician visiting an elderly patient in a nursing home; you can receive an updated medical history from their GP via online fax, straight to your phone.
Or if you’re a surgeon running a back-to-back theatre list; you can receive a patient’s urgent blood test results via online fax on your tablet, moments before you scrub.
Think of it as a portable fax machine in your pocket.
By the same token, if you’re a medical consultant working part time in the public hospital system and part time in private practice, you can have direct access to faxed referrals and test results at any time. You don’t have to wait until your next private clinic day to find a paper fax in your in-tray. Or worse - to find that an important document is not in your in-tray when you need it.
Online fax comes straight to your device wherever you are, so you’ll know as soon as a result is ready, and you can follow up anything of concern. For you, this means less time wasted on chasing documents, and for your patients, it means better medical care.
But the benefits don’t end there. Online fax can also solve the kind of problems that arise when several busy doctors share one traditional fax machine:
Uses of online fax for GP practices and superclinics
Which of these frustrating fax situations have you experienced at your multi-doctor practice? By switching to online fax and giving each doctor their own dedicated fax number, you can eliminate all of them.
A fax arrives on the central fax line and it’s not clear which doctor it’s for.
Online faxes go directly to the intended recipient, for patient privacy.
One faxed page is missing, because it was scooped up amongst someone else’s papers.
Faxes arrive complete, in one digital file, and the system sends back confirmation of receipt.
You’re waiting for an urgent fax that turns up days later down the back of the desk (after you’ve wasted ages looking, then asking for it to be sent again).
Doctors can see at a glance that urgent documents have arrived in their online fax inbox.
You have to scan, save and upload each faxed document to your patient database, then shred the paper copy.
Files are already digital, so they’re easy to save to the patient’s database file - in just a few clicks.
Or worse, you have to save a scanned copy and the paper copy, taking up physical filing space and wasting time.
There’s no paper filing, and no shredding of sensitive documents.
What’s more, you can use a similar principle to improve efficiency for medical superclinics. All you have to do is give a dedicated online fax number to each clinician, to each Allied Health unit, and to the practice manager.
Online fax is private and secure
When you need to maintain your patients’ privacy, simply give the senders your dedicated online fax number. That means no more faxed papers sitting in a tray for anyone to read or scoop up by accident, and nothing gets lost or missed.
There’s no concern about data security, either. Online fax data is protected by TLS version 1.2 , which is currently the most up-to-date security protocol available. Data is encrypted using a combination of private and public keys, so it’s unreadable by outside parties who don’t have the right keys to decipher it. In other words, your patients’ private medical information is safe with online fax.
Sign digital faxes, without printing
With online fax from a good provider, you can sign and return a document on your phone, tablet or computer, without printing. Digital signatures are a simple and legally binding method to confirm authorisation. Just use the app supplied by your online fax provider to stamp your digital signature and send the document back.
Depending on your provider, and what type of device you’re using , you’ll typically have a choice of two easy methods for signing on the go:
Drop in a stored photo of your signature, also called a digital signature stamp
Use your finger to trace your signature onto a mobile or tablet touchscreen
And yes, those digital signatures are legal. According to Australian and international law, electronic signatures are legally binding in the exact same way as signing a hardcopy document. The only differences are the time, effort, expense and trees you’ll save doing it digitally.
Online fax is significantly cheaper than traditional fax
Over $600/yr cheaper, in fact.
For a low monthly fee, you get all the benefits of online fax: the compatibility with the NBN™ network, the convenience of a paperless system, and the freedom to send and receive faxes from anywhere.
Ensure you keep your existing fax number
If you’re expecting to get the NBN™ soon, you need to make a decision about your existing fax number immediately.
Most online fax providers will allow you to keep your existing fax number, but to do this, they have to physically port your number across to an entirely different infrastructure. No matter which online fax provider you choose, this will take 6-12 weeks.
If you get the NBN™ connected at your premises before your number is ported across - even if the port is already underway - your old number will be disconnected at the exchange.
To get it back, you’ll need to apply to have it physically reconnected. This takes time, and you could potentially even have your fax number taken by someone else in the meantime.
Check the estimated date for when the NBN™ network is planned to be available at your address.
Still have questions?
As you can see, your medical practice will certainly benefit from moving to an online fax service such as eFax. But if you have any questions about how it can work best for you, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 1800 283 361 so we can answer them for you.
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