Is eFax HIPAA Compliant? Online Faxing in Healthcare

Posted by Michael Hsu on 5/23/20 6:00 AM
Michael Hsu

If you’re still relying on clunky old fax machines to exchange patient records with other offices and providers, you may be interested in Internet faxing. One of the best-known Internet faxing services is eFax.

eFax allows you to send and receive faxes online without the use of physical machines. Instead, you can send faxes from any device connected to the Internet, including computers, laptops, tablets, and phones.

Can you use eFax services in healthcare, and are they HIPAA compliant?

How does eFax work?

eFax lets you exchange faxes with your colleagues and other healthcare professionals without fax machines. All you need is an Internet connection. Everything is stored in their cloud, and you can access it whenever you want. You can make up to five user profiles per one account and send the same fax to multiple recipients at once. 

There are three ways to send faxes via eFax:

  1. Through your eFax account
  2. Through email
  3. Through the eFax mobile app

Sending faxes via an eFax account

An eFax account provides you with a messaging tool that allows you to send faxes using the recipient’s fax number. You can attach up to ten documents, enter the number or choose one from the existing contacts, and send. The recipient will get the documents on their fax machine.

Sending faxes via email

You can use eFax to send documents directly to the recipient’s machine using your email. You need to attach the documents you wish to send. In the “To” field, you enter the recipient’s fax number followed by “@efaxsend.com” and send the email as usual.

Sending faxes via the eFax mobile app

eFax also offers a mobile app, so you can send documents from your phone on the go. You can even e-sign them directly in the app. Your recipient will receive the documents on their fax machine.

Is eFax HIPAA compliant?

Fax machines persist in healthcare for one reason—they don’t store data. Internet faxing services do, which makes data sent this way potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This is one of the worries that makes people apprehensive about using online faxing services such as eFax. 

The truth is so much can go wrong with fax machines: 

  • Failure to transmit data because the line is busy
  • Reaching the wrong receiver
  • Getting blank pages
  • Getting jammed up pages, etc. 

Online faxing is a safer option if the solution you’re using is HIPAA compliant.

eFax is a HIPAA compliant solution, which you can use to transfer your patient data securely. The safest indicator that an app adheres to HIPAA is the provider’s willingness to enter into a business associate agreement (BAA). This document is necessary for an intermediary to be considered compliant. eFax is willing to sign a BAA with you.

eFax satisfies all the obligatory HIPAA requirements, including the following:

  • Access control
  • Transmission security
  • Encryption
  • Audit control

Access control

There are appropriate mechanisms in place that allow you to control access to your cloud-based account. These include unique identification and admin rights to permit or deny access. 

Transmission security

eFax employs the TLS protocol recommended by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). TLS ensures that your protected health information (PHI) is safe during transfer.

Encryption

eFax utilizes AES 256-bit encryption, which is considered the industry standard. Your data is stored in their two redundant colocations, which are also protected by several security layers.

Audit control

You can track all your data transmissions, which allows you to examine any activity taking place on your account. All your data is backed up. Each piece of document you send is stored forever so that you can access it in case of an emergency.

Is eFax what you need?

If you need to communicate your patients’ PHI, eFax is a secure solution, but the question is—is it the right one?

Even in its modern, Internet-based version, faxing is still outdated. It allows you to exchange documents securely, but that’s all it does. If you want to communicate to your partner what you need, you’ll need to use another channel for that. If you want to exchange PHI with your patients, you’ll also need a different platform.

Faxing is passé, and you should replace it with a solution that makes communication with patients and other providers easier and more efficient.

Curogram is an all-in-one communication platform for healthcare providers

Curogram is a platform that allows you to communicate with anyone from a single dashboard, be it other providers, patients, or your internal staff. You can use it from your browser or the mobile app. It is 100% HIPAA compliant, and you can exchange PHI through it with anyone in a secure way.

Curogram can do for you what eFax does but much more efficiently. It also has a variety of other functions that you can’t get with a faxing service. If you still think eFax is worth your money, here are a couple of things to consider:

  1. eFax doesn’t integrate with your EHR
  2. You can send data through eFax only if the other side also uses faxing services
  3. eFax allows for limited communication options
  4. eFax can be slow if the line is busy
  5. eFax offers limited functionality for the monthly price

eFax doesn’t integrate with your EHR

Integration with your EHR could save you tons of time. The lack of this option is another major disadvantage of using eFax. When receiving data, you have to enter it into your EHR manually. It would also be beneficial if you could pull out and send documents directly from the EHR.

Curogram integrates with almost any EHR there is. The best thing about it is that the integration process is done in about 48 hours, thanks to our proprietary technology. You won’t have to wait for months to sync your communication platform with your EHR, which is how long this process takes usually.

Curogram EHR integrations

eClinicalWorks

Athena

Epic

Cerner

DrChrono

NextGen

Practice Fusion

CareCloud

Kareo

OfficeAlly

See More Integrations Here

You can send documents through eFax only if the other side also uses faxing services

You can’t send faxes without a fax number. That is, if your recipient doesn’t use any kind of faxing, you can’t send them a fax. Without a physical machine or an online faxing service, the other side can’t receive the desired documents.

This limitation means that you can only use eFax to reach other providers who typically have fax machines. If you want to exchange PHI with your patients, you’ll probably have to find another way. Outside of medicine, not many people and businesses utilize faxing as there are better and faster ways to communicate. If the intended recipient doesn’t use faxing, they are unlikely to subscribe to the service or buy a machine just to be able to communicate with you.

Curogram is a twenty-first-century solution for PHI exchange that anyone can use with almost no effort. It lets you send and receive sensitive patient data in a completely secure way. You can do it from the web-based dashboard or our mobile app.

Whoever it is that needs to receive PHI from you, all they have to do is download the free mobile app and get the desired documents from you instantly. We boast the first-ever HIPAA compliant mobile app for patients.

You can easily find and contact your partners from Curogram’s partner directory. Send patient records with a click of a button and get an instant response instead of calling to confirm that the document has arrived.

eFax allows for limited communication options

eFax makes sense only when you know exactly what you’re due to receive and send. This means that if you communicate with another office on a regular basis (to get labs, for example), eFax might be an alright solution for you.

Any other situation in which you have to exchange PHI requires you and the other party to communicate what you need. This means that you have to involve another channel to get the message across. You would probably have to go through the following steps:

  • Get on a call or text each other, making sure you don’t compromise any PHI in the process
  • When you establish what you need, send or receive the desired documents
  • After you receive or send the fax, you need to get in touch again to confirm the transmission was successful

With Curogram, you can IM your partners or staff and get what you need immediately. You will go through the whole process faster than it would take you to finish the first step with faxing. That’s because you’ll be doing everything through one platform, without involving other channels of communication. You can even attach documents directly from your EHR.

eFax can be slow if the line is busy

No matter how advanced a faxing solution is, it still goes through a phone line and depends on it. If the line is busy, you’ll have to retry several times to get through and often to no avail. Busy lines can make the whole process even slower than it is already bound to be. This is one of the main reasons why faxing should be left in the past.

Our platform is Internet-based, and you don’t have to wait a ridiculous amount of time to get a document through it in a safe way. Everything is done with a couple of clicks, so no one has to waste their time.

eFax offers limited functionality for the monthly price

eFax may be the best-known online faxing service, but it is also the most expensive one. For example, the eFax Plus plan starts from $16.95 per month. This is pretty pricey, considering that you only get 150 incoming and the same number of outgoing pages. For anything more, you get charged extra.

Apart from the number of pages, you also get a limit on the number of users per account. You can only connect five email addresses to it. This may be fine for some, but if you need to make the faxing service available to more people, you’ll need another account.

Considering these limitations and others we’ve explored above, it is obvious that eFax is not good value for money. For an affordable monthly subscription with Curogram, you get a feature-rich telemedicine solution and a two-way messaging platform. You can use it to communicate with anyone in an efficient and HIPAA-secure way and set up a virtual clinic for conducting online appointments.

There’s no limit on how many documents you can send. Your staff can communicate internally, and you can reach out to your patients and partners as well.

eFax

Curogram

  • Can send documents only to those who use faxing already
  • Limited communication options
  • Can be slow
  • Doesn’t integrate with your EHR
  • Limited functionality for the monthly price
  • Can send documents to anyone
  • Can communicate anything
  • Always fast
  • Integrates with your EHR within 48 hours
  • A variety of features for the monthly price

How healthcare professionals can connect through Curogram

The U.S. medical system is behind the times. The lack of interoperability between clinics’ electronic records makes doctors and other medical staff rely on fax machines for communication. This can lead to issues such as jammed up or half-printed paper, which are the problems of the twentieth century.

Faxing is outdated. It shouldn’t be digitized but abandoned altogether. Online faxing is somewhat more convenient, but it’s still not a twenty-first-century solution for secure communication between medical professionals.

Here’s how healthcare providers can benefit from subscribing to Curogram:

  1. You can communicate with other clinics in a simple and secure way
  2. ESCOs and other doctor groups can collaborate to provide better patient care
  3. Patients can easily communicate with all the clinics that use Curogram

You can communicate with other clinics in a simple and secure way

Curogram makes it easy to communicate with other practices. You don’t need to rely on several different channels to get the message across. Instead of calling and texting to make arrangements about faxing the documents containing PHI, you can do everything from the Curogram dashboard.

If you need to receive test results from the lab or exchange other medical records with another clinic, you can find them in your partner directory on Curogram and message them from there. You can send each other files through the platform without violating the HIPAA rules. You don’t have to involve emails or clunky old machines in the transfer. This also means that your documents will all be in one place and not scattered around your office in paper.

ESCOs and other doctor groups can collaborate to provide better patient care

Independent providers can band together to provide better patient care in their area. This means that a group of doctors can share a patient population in an area to make it easier for themselves and the patients to connect.

Clinics have their electronic systems, but these do not allow for active collaboration with other practices. Curogram can change that. If a group of healthcare providers connects via our platform, they get a unified system for patient care. They can refer patients to each other and exchange patient information in a safe way.

ESCOs can use Curogram to collaborate on taking care of all the Medicare patients in an area. If they coordinate their services this way, they can help reduce overall costs per Medicare patient, which can bring them substantial rewards.

Patients can easily communicate with all the clinics that use Curogram

If doctors collaborate, patients benefit as well. They will be able to see their entire network of healthcare providers in a single app and text them at any time. Their doctors’ mutual collaboration means they won’t have to contact each clinic individually. Whenever they have a health-related problem, they can turn to their Curogram app, and whenever they have an appointment, they will receive their reminders via Curogram's HIPAA compliant texting solution.

Once a patient fills out an intake form for one provider, they don’t need to do it again as their form will be saved in the system. No matter what documents they send through Curogram, they get stored in the app, and the patient can send them to another provider if necessary with a single click.

Fax is the past, Curogram is the future

Our healthcare system suffers from interoperability issues and a lack of collaboration tools for medical professionals. The fact that various practices still run on fax machines is proof enough that we need to do more to ensure secure and efficient inter-office communication. Curogram can revolutionize the way doctors collaborate and help them work in sync to provide better patient care.

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Topics: HIPAA, eFax

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