Faxes are an aging, unreliable and even insecure tool for transfer of personal health information. Unfortunately, it is also an outmoded technology that refuses to die in medicine. We hope Connect Care will help us escape faxes. However, many healthcare facilities, offices and clinics still use this technology. So, how does Connect Care deal with faxes?
Physicians are relatively isolated from the complexities, so we won't go into detail here. However, it can help to understand what is and is not possible, even if support staff end up with the burden of managing fax workflows. Preference should always be given to communicating internally within Connect Care (In Basket routing) if at all possible.
The Connect Care approach differs according to whether faxes are outgoing or incoming.
Virtually all outbound faxes destined for individuals or practices that require documents communicated via fax can be sent directly from within the Connect Care clinical information system. This happens through an interface to the Alberta Health Services provincial instance of RightFax software. Health Information Management (HIM) monitors any error reports, failed deliveries or other issues. The user simply needs to indicate that an outgoing communication should be sent by fax. Even that is not really necessary; Connect Care knows the information delivery preference of external providers (those not using Connect Care as their record of care) and routes by fax if that is what's needed.
If a physician or medical support staff needs to specify a fax number for an external provider to whom a fax is addressed, the Alberta Referral Directory is a reasonable reference. In time, the Connect Care Phone Book (general menu item) will have an accurate representation of external fax numbers.... but, by that time, we hope the fax technology will have been totally replaced by secure electronic communications.
Connect Care has not replaced the myriad of fax machines, fax telephone numbers or other workflows that are known and understood for receiving faxes from external organizations. These will arrive and, in most cases, generate a printed record. If the received material is important for including in the Connect Care record, then office and ward support staff (with HIM assistance) scan the received fax for attachment to the Connect Care record.