Transitioning from Traditional to E-Fax: How Healthcare Communications are Transforming Post-COVID

Telehealth After COVID-19: What's Next for the Healthcare Industry?
Michael Morgan, CEO of Updox

The majority of industries have decreased or eliminated their use of the traditional fax machine over the past decade, including aviation, retail, and even finance. While the healthcare industry is at the forefront of disease research and treatment, however, it is still heavily reliant on this aging technology. 

Traditional fax has become ubiquitous in healthcare. It worked for health systems for many years, but the overwhelming volume of patient data and paper documents the healthcare industry is now processing makes traditional faxing more challenging. In today’s environment, fax is no longer the most convenient, safe, or secure communications format but it is still an ingrained part of practice workflows. The good news is, there is no need to “axe the fax” in order to improve office communications and alleviate paper overload. By transitioning to electronic fax, healthcare providers can maintain their workflows and the benefits of fax, while incorporating it into their overall virtual communications strategy – further simplifying the business of healthcare. 

The Traditional Fax Challenge

The challenge with traditional fax isn’t new. In fact, in 2008 the Obama administration allocated nearly $30 billion to incentivize American hospitals and doctor offices to switch from paper to electronic systems. Since then, the industry has made small steps towards a more digitized system via fax servers and virtual patient communications such as secure text and broadcast messaging. While this solved part of the problem by making documents electronic and streamlining communications, it did not address the issue of inefficiency at its core, as practices are still printing, signing, and scanning paper documents. This inefficiency is causing a bottleneck when it comes to getting information transferred quickly, creates unnecessary costs for practices, and causes a lack of integration between health technologies across our healthcare system. 

A recent poll by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) found that 89% of healthcare organizations still use a fax machine, primarily to: 

  • Share patient records and lab and/or test results
  • Referrals
  • Payer communication
  • Pharmacy communication

This fragmented, outdated way of communication is not only inefficient and costly, it also impacts patient privacy and safety. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one Texas health department received so many test results via fax in one day that it simply couldn’t keep up with the amount of paper being spit out – resulting in hundreds of confidential results being dumped on the floor. In addition, the vast differences between old and new technology being blended together are making it difficult to keep track of patient records, share data between practices or report to the government, and more, including important racial, ethnic and geographic data that the Trump administration required for COVID tests. In addition to these challenges, traditional fax eats up staff time that could instead be spent on patient care.  

Addressing Outdated Systems and Driving Transformation 

While on the surface the solution seems simple, actually addressing this challenge at its core is not as easy as it seems. Many providers and large health systems face barriers when it comes to implementing this technology, such as: 

  • Compatibility between systems 
  • Fear of competition and/or losing patients to other health systems if e-fax enables patients to easily share data with other physicians
  • Cost considerations
  • Regulatory issues around the transfer of data between providers/EHRs through electronic fax

Despite these challenges, the pandemic has highlighted the delayed, disjointed communications that exist within our healthcare system – and underscored the need for practices and health systems to adopt electronic fax technology. For example, a CNBC survey found that due to COVID-19 tests results coming in via fax in such large amounts, almost 40% of Americans had to wait more than three days for their results, which was too late to be clinically meaningful.  

It’s time to address this challenge industry-wide. Last year’s MGMA 2020 virtual conference theme, Rise Above, focused on giving providers actionable tools to navigate through the challenges COVID-19 has presented. The importance of virtual care solutions, including communications tools like electronic fax and forms, are unprecedented. Electronic fax technology can help alleviate the bottlenecks and inefficiencies that currently exist in healthcare. These solutions can: 

  • Reduce costs spent on traditional fax hardware, such as paper, ink, toner, etc.
  • Increase accessibility, allowing providers to view documents via mobile, etc.  at their convenience 
  • Improve practice workflow and efficiency, allowing practices to edit, organize, assign and complete patient forms online

Additionally, electronic fax should integrate seamlessly with other patient management solutions that practices are leveraging, such as video chat, SMS text, electronic forms, and a virtual waiting room, ultimately streamlining the entire patient experience.

Healthcare has transformed dramatically this year and will continue to do so — there’s a new expectation of patient care post-COVID. In order to improve patient communications, practice efficiency, system interoperability, and data sharing, practices must adopt an entire virtual care strategy, including electronic fax. Offering telehealth but still communicating via traditional fax will hold your practice back. It’s time for our healthcare system to ditch outdated systems and go completely paperless. This is how we will tap into the true power of the inbox, drive practice profitability and efficiency, and better serve patients. 


About Michael Morgan, CEO of Updox
With a successful track record in helping organizations use technology to transform the way healthcare is delivered, Mike has more than 25 years of healthcare leadership within software, behavioral health, and HIT organizations. Updox was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for the past six consecutive years.


Intermountain Adds Omada’s Diabetes Prevention Program to At-Risk Patients

Intermountain and MDClone Team Up to Transform Patient Data into Actionable Insight

What You Should Know:

– Omada’s diabetes prevention program will be available
to Intermountain’s at-risk patient population as part of a limited engagement
in 2020 and 2021.

– Omada’s diabetes prevention program is personalized to
meet each participant’s unique needs as they evolve, ranging from diabetes
prevention, type 2 diabetes management, hypertension, behavioral health, and
musculoskeletal issues.


Deepening a collaboration that began in 2016, Omada Health
and Intermountain
Healthcare
 announced the availability of Omada’s Prevention Program as a covered
benefit to patients with prediabetes seen by Intermountain Medical Group
providers at Intermountain primary care facilities. As in-person healthcare
systems seek to integrate proven digital care and coaching for at-risk
patients, this new offering creates a roadmap for large health systems across
the country. Omada’s prevention program will be available to Intermountain’s
at-risk patient population as part of a limited engagement in 2020 and 2021
that launched at the end of August.

Omada’s diabetes prevention program is personalized to meet
each participant’s unique needs as they evolve, ranging from diabetes
prevention, type 2 diabetes management, hypertension, behavioral health, and
musculoskeletal issues. Omada combines professional health coaching, connected
health devices, real-time data and personalized feedback to deliver clinically
meaningful results.

Expansion Builds on Previous Successful Collaborations

This announcement builds on a series of milestones between
Intermountain Healthcare and Omada. In 2016, the two companies launched an
innovative partnership in conjunction with the American Medical Association to
deliver digital diabetes prevention services via physician referral. In 2019,
the Omada Program became a covered benefit for Intermountain employees and
their adult dependents, followed by an investment from
Intermountain Ventures, the strategic investment arm of Intermountain
Healthcare.

“Intermountain is focused on ensuring all patients receive the care and information they need –  where, when, and how they want it – with seamless coordination across the system,” said Elizabeth Joy, M.D., M.P.H., Intermountain’s Medical Director for the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness under Community Based Care and Nutrition Services. “We’ve enrolled nearly 2,000 participants to date from our caregiver population, and we anticipate that access to the Omada program will enhance patient engagement and improve health outcomes in a time when patients are seeking deeply human digital care.”

Why It Matters

“By expanding the Omada diabetes prevention program to our at-risk patients, digital coaches will help encourage and teach patients to proactively manage and improve their overall health and prevent a potentially deadly disease. This is one of the many ways Intermountain Healthcare is moving toward value-based care, which aims to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, not just for patients, but entire communities,” said Rajesh Shrestha, VP and COO, community-based care at Intermountain and president and CEO of Castell, an Intermountain company focused on elevating value-based care capabilities.

Mayo Clinic Performs First Shoulder Arthroplasty Procedure Using Mixed Reality

Mayo Clinic Performs First Shoulder Arthroplasty Procedure Using Mixed Reality

What You Should Know:

– Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN performed the first-ever shoulder arthroplasty procedure using Wright Medical’s groundbreaking BLUPRINT Mixed Reality Technology, which provides surgeons a 3-D holographic view of the patient’s pre-operative plan.

– The Mixed Reality Application is the
latest addition to Wright’s BLUEPRINT ecosystem and enables a surgeon to
maintain a direct view of the surgical site and simultaneously visualize and
manipulate a holographic representation of the patient’s native anatomy and
pre-operative plan.


 Wright Medical Group N.V. (NASDAQ: WMGI) announced
that the first shoulder arthroplasty procedure was performed using
groundbreaking BLUEPRINT Mixed Reality Technology at
Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minnesota.  Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo,
M.D., Ph.D, performed the procedure utilizing BLUEPRINT OR Visualization Mixed Reality software,
which provides a 3-D holographic view of the patient’s pre-operative
plan. 

Mixed Reality Application Overview

The Mixed Reality Application is the latest
addition to Wright’s BLUEPRINT ecosystem and enables a surgeon to maintain a
direct view of the surgical site and simultaneously visualize and manipulate a
holographic representation of the patient’s native anatomy and pre-operative
plan. By using hand gestures and voice commands, the surgeon can interact with
a more robust data set to optimize the position of the 3-D holographic models
displayed by the Mixed Reality application. This can allow the
surgeon to replicate the pre-operative plan as closely as possible given the
availability of information while operating.

Why It Matters

“This procedure is an important milestone for shoulder arthroplasty and marks a major step in the evolution of BLUEPRINT mixed reality technology in shoulder surgery. For the first time in shoulder arthroplasty, surgeons will be able to interact with their 3-D pre-op plan in real-time to more precisely tailor shoulder joint replacement procedures to the unique needs and anatomy of their patients. By integrating other solutions in the future, such as artificial intelligence, case planning optimization and mixed reality modules for medical education, the BLUEPRINT ecosystem offers an opportunity to significantly reduce variability in the way shoulder arthroplasties are performed, potentially reducing complications and improving overall patient outcomes,” said Robert Palmisano, president, and chief executive officer of Wright .

Palmisano continued, “In addition to Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo, we
would like to recognize and thank the entire surgeon team who have been
integral to the development of this groundbreaking platform: George Athwal –
London, ON, CA; Julien Berhouet – Tours, FR; Philippe Collin – Rennes, FR;
Ashish Gupta – Brisbane, AU; Gilles Walch – Lyon, FR; and Jon J.P. Warner –
Boston, USA.”

Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo, stated, “I was able to visualize,
rotate, and tilt three-dimensional holographic objects right in front of the
surgical field. As mixed reality continues to develop, it will
provide a very unique, cost-effective tool for execution of our surgical plan.”

Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo and Mayo Clinic have financial interest
in Wright Medical Group N.V.  Mayo Clinic will use any revenue it receives
to support its not-for-profit mission in patient care, education and research.