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Addressing the Six Most Pressing Technology Challenges for Healthcare Providers

Though faxing remains a necessary and established protocol in healthcare facilities, not all fax technologies are equal. Legacy fax machines hooked to aging phone lines can lead to aggravations like missed faxes, privacy lapses, and mounting maintenance costs.

Store-and-forward solutions, while practical in some cases, are not suitable for many healthcare offices. They can lead to delivery delays and false-positive notifications to the sender and require specialized servers that add other failure points. They also can complicate HIPAA compliance due to “data-at-rest” risks and concerns resulting from the use of a “middleman” device operated by the service provider. As such, those systems require the negotiation of a business associates agreement (BAA) to ensure data privacy and preserve HIPAA compliance.


U.S. Healthcare Offices using Fax


Medical Communications done by Fax

However, healthcare providers should know they are no longer limited to paper-fax technology (also known as walk-up faxing) using legacy fax machines and phone lines. IP (Internet protocol) fax technologies can transmit data through fax servers and be integrated with back-office systems if necessary. Real-time IP fax lines are replacing aging, costly analog phone lines to provide a secure, scalable, efficient, and cost-effective alternative.

Read on to learn why faxing remains popular among healthcare providers, and how real-time IP fax systems address those needs and challenges with affordable, secure, digital technology.

Missed or Delayed Referrals

Communication breakdowns like missed or delayed referrals can cause patients to head to another provider or healthcare system. “Patient leakage” leads to substantial revenue loss for the practice, according to U.S. healthcare leaders:


of healthcare leaders lost 10% or more in revenue


of healthcare leaders lost 19% or more in revenue


don't know how much they are losing.

Real-time T.38 IP fax reduces the chance for missed referrals and lost information because information is transmitted in real time, quickly, and in its entirety. Data is never delayed, as can happen when it is stored and forwarded along the way like HTTPS fax technologies. It goes directly from sending server to receiving server, using what is known as a “digital handshake.”

This “digital handshake” between sender and receiver also makes T.38 IP fax easier to track, since confirmation comes in real time. Store-and-forward solutions can incur long confirmation delays, or confirmation can get lost altogether due to network errors or other factors.

Fax Reliability

An estimated 80% of serious medical errors involve miscommunication between caregivers during the transfer of patients. In addition to causing patient harm, defective hand-offs can lead to delays in treatment, inappropriate treatment, and increased length of stay in the hospital.


of serious medical errors involve miscommunications between caregivers during the transfer of patients, according to the Joint Commission.

Real-time IP fax provides confirmation immediately, so you’ll know instantly if the transmission failed or succeeded. Also, T.38 protocol optimizes delivery success, maximizing successful transmissions while minimizing retry attempts. Fax machines are configured to automatically try re-sending a fixed number of times, so ensuring the fax succeeds in the least number of attempts reduces the chances that a fax fails, after exhausting all re-try attempts, without the sender immediately noticing.

Data Security

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules require healthcare organizations to implement security measures that help protect patient privacy. Healthcare providers must make patient health information available while ensuring it is not improperly used or disclosed, including while the information is shared with other healthcare providers.

Real-time IP fax transmits data directly and in real time, with no information passed through a “middleman,” as compared to a store-and-forward IP fax solution. This offers a safer, faster transfer and page-by-page confirmation as the fax is transmitted. Certain store-and-forward solutions that make use of telephone adapters and HTTPS can result in “false-positives,” which is a false confirmation that a fax was sent when it, in fact, never reached its destination. Real-time IP fax provides medical practices the assurance needed that the information was transmitted successfully.


of healthcare leaders lost 10% or more in revenue due to incorrectly delivered faxes.


Emerging technologies for secure electronic document exchange are costly and difficult (sometimes impossible) to integrate within current workflows and processes. Migrating to IP fax from analog fax will require an analog telephone adapter, which may be included in the service provider’s startup package. After that, the savings will start accumulating immediately. T.38 IP fax can cost 50 percent less than traditional analog systems: about $36 per month (with no long-distance charges across North America), compared with $35-$60 per month plus long distance charges for analog fax plans.

T.38 IP Fax Cuts Costs Up to 50%

From a long-term perspective, IP fax integrates well with other technologies that improve efficiency through automation. This may lead to significant cost savings over the history of your practice.

T.38 IP Fax


per month

Analog Fax

$35 – $60

per month plus long-distance charges

Plus, if you’ve been using analog or PRI lines, you’ll also save on maintenance and repair of connectivity hardware, like fax boards.

Additionally, IP fax can scale affordably as your healthcare practice or organization grows. Adding fax numbers is quick and inexpensive compared to expanding analog infrastructure, even with multiple office locations. In fact, real-time IP fax can support high-volume offices or networks at the most favorable price-point in the industry, without compromising functionality.

From a long-term perspective, IP fax integrates well with other technologies that improve efficiency through automation. This may lead to significant cost savings over the history of your practice.


Despite impressive strides in medical technology over the past decade, and billions invested in expanding electronic health record usage, faxing remains the dominant method for transmitting patient data, prescriptions, test results, and referrals. According to the Medical Group Management Association, 89 percent of healthcare offices in the United States still use fax machines, with about 75 percent of medical communications taking place by fax.

For many healthcare organizations, there is a growing importance for their document delivery solutions to have compatibility with EHR systems that vary by vendor and healthcare organization.

T.38 real-time IP fax is standards-based and technology-agnostic. Unlike proprietary IP fax solutions that leverage protocols like HTTPS to secure fax traffic, T.38 is specifically designed for fax to optimize delivery while maintaining the highest level of security.

Ease of Use

Faxing has been the dominant technology in healthcare for several decades. For both clinicians and office staff, faxing is standard operating procedure, and those new to the office need to catch on to the systems quickly.

Because real-time IP faxing is flexible and can be integrated with existing fax servers, devices, and back-office systems, it is similar in process to traditional analog faxing. Healthcare office staff won’t require any additional training and can maintain all standard operating procedures using the new system. The transition is seamless, fast and requires no downtime on the part of your office.

Additionally, no BAA is required of real-time IP fax providers, unlike store-and-forward IP fax services. That’s because T.38 SIP trunk technology provides real-time transport of information, similar to a phone line, with no storage of data in transit. This allows IP fax providers to qualify for the HIPAA Conduit Exception and save healthcare providers the additional time and hassle of the BAA.

Making the Move

Real-time IP fax is an obvious choice for healthcare practices, clinics, and hospitals. Not only does it remove the stress of supporting HIPAA compliance, but it offers a more reliable and secure technology for transferring time-sensitive and privacy-sensitive patient information.

Converting to real-time IP fax is a smooth and easy process, with no downtime or disruption to your office. To talk to someone about how real-time IP fax could benefit your medical setting, reach out to our IP fax experts.

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Our IP fax experts will provide a free consultation and assessment of your needs, benefits, and deployment at no charge. We also offer a free trial so you can try it for yourself and be assured you’re making the right decision for your business.

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