Faxing is still the most common way to share documents between practices, hospitals, and ancillary healthcare services in orthopedics. Although the outdated technology creates extra manual labor and lots of headaches, the truth is we’re still dependent on it. Thankfully, you can automate many faxing tasks directly within the EHR, if you have the right tools and set up. We present three solutions to your faxing problems using our software as an example:
Why are we still dependent on fax?
Most practices are still 100% dependent on fax for sending documents outbound like referral reports, especially when communicating with less digitized practices and health plans. Additionally, HIPAA names fax as an acceptable method of communicating protected health information between healthcare entities. Legally, there’s no reason to phase out the technology.
Some practices use faxing to communicate outbound with ancillary providers such as physical therapists, imaging centers, and surgery centers. There’s also a lot of physical therapy paperwork, prescription renewals and insurance company notifications that come into the practice. Fax is often the only sure fallback practices have that they'll be able to share records with emergency rooms or other facilities when they’re not sure what kind of technology is on the other end, making the machine a necessity even after all these years.
Why is it a problem?
Faxing can quickly overwhelm the practice with paperwork. Most have several fax lines dedicated for separate physicians or purposes. Many cope by manually sorting out junk faxes from medically-related documents, in some cases employing a person solely to handle faxing needs.
The employee often manually inputs data into the EHR system from incoming faxes, assuming the image has come across clearly and does not require a phone call to follow up. Fax numbers must be double checked before attempting to send an outgoing fax in order to comply with HIPPA standards. The entire process creates an incredibly inefficient and significant time delay. There are instances where practices are faxing an entire medical record back to a primary care office that referred a patient for orthopedic work, instead of the two pages the primary care doctor really needs.
What solutions exist?
Exscribe and EHRs in general have been making improvements to their systems over the years to reduce the manual burden of faxing. Each vendor has their own solutions, but Exscribe handles faxing with several methods depending on your practice’s needs. These methods drastically reduce the time it takes to handle outgoing faxes by making good use of the automation and digital tools already found in the system:
Fax Directly from the Chart
Faxing the chart or pieces of a chart are simplified in Exscribe. A simple application is run on command that allows staff to select the desired pages and create a singular fax that can either be faxed, printed, saved as a .pdf or sent to the patient's portal for access. The simplicity and automation of this export chart feature eliminates the need to print, access a fax machine and load it with the paperwork, hoping the other line is not busy. This option translates to significant time savings and removes many frustrations for practices and staff.
Auto Generate Referral Letters
Using the Exscribe electronically embedded Superbill, a user can select the appropriate letter or fax to be created. The system auto-generates a professional letter with the appropriate selections from a note as designated by the practice. Having this integrated with the practice fax server allows for further automation of a necessary communication tool, and eliminates wasted time.
Exscribe’s batch faxing feature takes letter automation and faxing even further. With this integration, a practice can determine rules that are associated with a type of visit (WE, private payer, etc.) for sending out letters and other documentation at the end of the day. At a preset time, the EHR sweeps the appointments from that day and creates notes for all finalized visits based on the rules. Then the system creates faxes to the appropriate associations and sends them out automatically. This process opens up staff time to focus on activities that really matter for patient satisfaction.
Faxing directly from the chart, auto generating referral letters and batch faxing reliably banish the faxing headache altogether in orthopedic practices. Your vendor should have digital, automated solutions available if they are truly committed to bringing time and monetary savings to your practice.