HealthWare Systems Blog

Why Faxed Physician Orders Persist and Every Hospital Needs ActiveXCHANGE (formerly ActiveFAX)

Posted on Tue, Sep 29, 2015

It’s 2015. Healthcare infrastructure and IT capabilities are leaps and bounds ahead of where they were ten, or even five, years ago. So why are we still talking about faxes and the problems they create?

It’s not that faxing issues can’t be solved; it’s that a few key misconceptions prevent fax-based document exchanges from getting the attention and technology improvements (e.g. ActiveXCHANGE formerly known as ActiveFax) they deserve. Here are four of those misconceptions:

1. Faxes are a relic of yesterday’s healthcare.

Some administrators are blind to how prevalent and ingrained fax exchanges really are.In particular, faxed-based physician orders persist. As of 2012, 63 percent of physicians relied on fax as their primary form of peer-to-peer communication—including transmissions like lab test results and insurance forms.Yes, most major health systems have implemented EHR technology by now, but smaller providers and physician groups—especially those in rural areas—don’t have the resources to make a transition. Some solo practices may never make the switch. Consequently, hospitals still receive a steady combination of handwritten faxes and electronic orders. Their ability to manage this mixed bag has huge bottom line implications.

2. Once every health system has digital capabilities, physician order exchange will be seamless.

As noted above, it’s wrong to assume that universal adoption is coming soon—or ever.But even if all partner providers were on an EHR tomorrow, hospitals would still need a common platform among them, in order to accommodate different systems and standardize workflows. Moreover, health systems should be thinking about document management beyond physician orders. As one ActiveXCHANGE client explained, “we’re using XCHANGE to send denials and appeal letters, for correspondence with insurance companies, HIPAA forms, etc.; there are lots of documents attached to these orders.”

3. Document management isn’t a top priority.

In the context of Accountable Care, Meaningful Use and ICD-10, most HIT leaders aren’t looking for another technology agenda to support—let alone champion. But physician satisfaction and patient experience are top priorities. Data security and HIPAA compliance are up there, too.Faxed-based document exchange touches all these areas. When the process involves physical machines, printouts, and manual administration, opportunities for error multiply. Physician satisfaction, for example, plummets when the same materials are requested multiple times. Patient experience suffers when patients have to wait—or be rescheduled—due to missing documents. And hefty fines loom, when sensitive patient data is routed to an unattended fax tray (or a wrong number).

4. In the era of EHRs, technology devoted to document management is superfluous.

Despites the billions invested in electronic health record systems, they are not a cure all. Some experts say human input and/or companion technology will probably always be required to re-contextualize electronic records for different uses. As noted in a recent article posted to Becker’s Hospital Review:“EHRs alone are still not enough to serve as the main technology hub for communication in healthcare… [The] collection, processing and storage of data, although critical in care management, are not the primary issues. Instead, it is the adding meaning to data collected and distributing, the meaning to all involved in the management of care, including the patient and their families. EMRs need to have as standard usage, active, not passive data; middleware connectivity; push technology to elevate medical alerts when not addressed in a timely manner so the right data is sent to the right people at the right time.”Still, a paperless document management solution like ActiveFax/XCHANGE isn’t about excessive layers or processes. On the contrary, XCHANGE actually supports a lean healthcare management methodology by incorporating visual management cues (e.g. an interface that turns different colors based on custom rules and threshold alerts), and by eliminating several different types of waste (e.g. helping administrators calculate, by hour of day, the average number of inbound orders so as to staff accordingly).If your health system is getting inundated with physician orders, and using a manual, labor-intensive process to keep up, see why facilities like yours have made the switch to ActiveXCHANGE (formerly ActiveFax). Here are some resources to explain its full value:

  • Get the ActiveXCHANGE eBook, outlining digital order management and much more.
  • Read the ActiveXCHANGE case study; one hospital eliminated 1.3M pages and 18K folders.
  • Discover how ActiveXCHANGE + Existing Fax Server Technology (Rightfax, Goldfax, Xmedius, etc.) create huge bottom-line improvements.
  • Get the product facts on ActiveXCHANGE, for 21st century indexing and paperless workflows.