Windsor Health Group is a managed healthcare company, based in Nashville, Tennessee, operating government sponsored health plans and providing specialty managed care services to both the insurance and healthcare provider communities. The company needed a solution that ensured compliance with the requirements to exchange document images with any healthcare provider in a secure manner, to help it move towards a paperless office and to remove the bottleneck of shared physical fax machines within the organization. To address these issues, Windsor Health Group chose GFI FaxMaker from GFI Software.
The exchange of patient health records, patient confidentiality and data security are of utmost importance for organizations providing healthcare services in the US. With strict regulations imposed as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, healthcare organizations have had to implement systems and software solutions that are compliant with HIPAA.
"As a healthcare organization, we were aware of HIPAA's requirements to exchange documents and patient information with any healthcare provider as securely as possible. Moving from the traditional fax machine to an integrated fax server that used our IT and email infrastructure was an important step for us, hence our interest in GFI FaxMaker," Barry Shermer, VP IT, Business Intelligence & Reporting, said.
Although the secure transmission of documentation was a primary consideration, Mr Shermer said the company also wanted to move another step closer towards a paperless office and remove the bottleneck of shared physical fax machines.
"Shared fax machines are not only a security hole, in that confidential documents could be seen by unauthorized individuals within the company, but there is a strong element of cost in terms of paper and other material resources. Removing this bottleneck would result in cost savings and allow for the secure exchange of patient information and documentation," Mr Shermer added.
The solution for Windsor was the look for a software solution that addressed these issues in a cost-effective way.
The company had looked at a number of products on the market, including GFI FaxMaker.
"We had looked at other solutions and our choice was based on the following criteria: price, the ability to route easily by DID to Microsoft Exchange mailboxes and, at the time, the ability to export/archive to a share folder - however this is no longer a requirement for us. Our decision though was ultimately based on FaxMaker's routing capability," Mr Shermer explained.
According to Mr Shermer, Windsor has been able to 'value add' to corporate-built applications since the backend database is accessible."For instance, validating within an application resulted in an automated email being sent successfully via GFI FaxMaker."
"Productivity improvements were immediately noticeable as well. Employees adapted very quickly to sending and receiving faxes from the desktop; they no longer needed to print documents, take them to a physical fax machine, and then make multiple trips to verify if they were sent successfully or not. They do so now without leaving their workstation" he explained.
With users using their workstation to send and receive emails, confidentiality is guaranteed as well because each fax received, for example, is directly sent to the recipients mailbox and not a physical fax machine in the office where it could be seen by other employees.
"The time spent previously with the physical fax machine, feeding faxes, waiting for delivery and so on as been curtailed and that time is now spent on other tasks".
The company has benefited in three main areas:
From a legal, management or compliance perspective,"GFI FaxMaker allows us to exchange medical records by virtually any provider office, even those without Internet access. Data is transferred using a HIPAA-accepted protocol, fax, and we now have accountability for both inbound and outbound faxes to medical providers. With GFI FaxMaker, these are logged by the system instead of paper receipts from physical fax machines:
From a technology perspective, GFI FaxMaker allows for assignment of departmental digital IDs (DIDs) to Exchange inboxes."Multiple users within a department can have access to the shared inbox. Expansion is also easy as the company grows; for example, we expanded from an analog board to a Ti board with minimal changes to our GFI FaxMaker configuration" Mr Shermer said.
Finally, from a financial perspective, the initial cost to purchase and implement was moderate while the cost to maintain is minimal. "Windsor averages 920 inbound and 720 outbound faxes every day. Productivity gains though the packaging of supporting medical documentation into a single outbound response have been significant. Furthermore, if there happens to be a handshake failure, the resending of a 'medical packet' is as simple as resending the email, he added.
While Windsor's initial target - to ensure the safe transmission and exchange of medical documents securely - was reached, the company also benefited from substantial productivity gains, a more efficient faxing process for users and, also important, savings on resources such as paper, toner and maintenance of the physical machines.
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