doctor with paperwork

3 unforeseen PHI risks with your fax machine

It’s time to face the fax and protect your organization.

There’s a reason fax machines are still so pervasive in the healthcare industry. Unlike emerging technologies, fax is largely seen as a secure form of communication. While some healthcare professionals may be wary of cloud technology and prefer analog solutions, there are still many risks associated with fax that must be addressed. 

In fact, many fax-related security breaches go completely unnoticed due to the lack of an audit trail or any regular reporting. There is often a gap between what health systems think is happening, and what is actually happening.

Here are three unforeseen protected health information (PHI) risks to look out for and ways to address them.

Risk #1 – Misdials: Some health systems place great trust in their people. As a result, this may cause them to invest less in technology. Yet even the most careful and thorough users are subject to human error. Just pressing one incorrect digit could float a patient’s PHI to the wrong organization. You may never know the difference until you receive a call from Health & Human Services.

Invest in a fax management solution that merges direct messaging with traditional fax. Without any workflow disruption, you can guarantee documents will reach the correct recipient.

Risk #2 – Outdated destinations: For ease-of-use, most organizations program their fax devices with speed dial destinations. With dozens of disparate devices, it’s difficult to keep these up-to-date. Staff can unwittingly send PHI into the wrong hands due to inaccuracies in preprogrammed destinations.

Enlist a centralized fax management solution so every device can be managed and updated from one central location.

Risk #3 – Unattended trays: Information isn’t only at risk when traveling from device to device. Physical output exposes a significant security risk. Documents should never be left unattended, and unattended print trays are a hotbed for HIPAA violations.

Lockable print trays and ID verification-required printing help keep confidential output safe.

Healthcare professionals must be able to share information to better care for their patients. By paying closer attention to your fax device fleet, you can support data sharing while protecting your organization from security breaches and compliance violations.

Proactively manage fax at your organization.

Even with the adoption of EMRs and advances in tech-enabled communications, the primary method of communication in the healthcare industry remains the fax machine. Discover three main areas where you can improve fax management.

Jeff Plum, Business Process Consultant for Ricoh USA, Inc., is highly proficient in enhancing document and information workflow and accessibility with the intended goal of improving patient care, the physician experience and operational efficiencies. Plum has been with Ricoh for more than 34 years, with more than 30 years of that focused on the Healthcare space. Plum has an extensive background in Patient Access, Medical Records, Physician Referrals, Pharmacy, Lab and overall documentation content and workflow in both the acute care and ambulatory care space.