While Hushmail is not a fax service, we are able to support third-party fax services by providing the necessary connection that supports a fax service’s TLS connection if one exists.
Like a party guest that won’t get the hint and leave, the fax machine has persisted in the healthcare community as a relic from another era. Faxes are hard to read, unreliable, use up reams of paper, and are vulnerable to human error that can compromise protected health information (PHI).
In this day and age, there are better ways to send and receive confidential documents. However, the use of faxes is so entwined with the workflow of healthcare offices, it hasn’t been possible to completely leave the technology behind. Not yet, anyway. As healthcare continues to change, and we continue to adapt, the fax will no doubt eventually disappear the way it has from other industries.
We are already seeing substantial changes. Online fax services are beginning to take the place of the fax machine. There are numerous fax services to choose from and choosing the right one for your practice is much like selecting an encrypted email and web form service.
You’ll have many questions as you research the different services. In today’s post, we’re going to explain the basics of how online faxing works and what to look for to ensure you select a service that is HIPAA compliant. Most importantly, we explain how a HIPAA-compliant fax service can be used in tandem with your Hushmail account to make your life easier. Let’s get started.
What is an online fax service, and how does it work?
A traditional fax machine scans a document and changes the image into binary code, which it then sends down the phone line. The receiving fax machine then turns the code back into the image for delivery. Instead of bits of code sent down the phone line, online fax services transfer digital images over the internet and deliver them to an email account, or in some cases, a secure message center.
Sending an online fax is simple. All you need is a fax service. Fax services range from services that are free to use with no subscription to services that have been developed specifically for industries such as health care. These services usually require a subscription and offer extra security and features such as cloud storage and fax scheduling.
If you’re in the healthcare industry, then you want to look for a HIPAA-compliant service that offers TLS encryption and provides a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Many fax services now offer TLS encryption, and this will go a long way in keeping your documents secure. However, it’s the BAA that establishes the fax service’s responsibility for securing any sensitive information you send, such as PHI. Not all fax services offer a BAA, so be sure to look for this inclusion.
Once you’ve found a fax service, sending a fax is easy. Many fax services offer an account page or a smartphone app that you can use to send your fax. You can also send a fax from any email account. All you have to do is type the fax number of the recipient and the domain name of the fax service in the To field. It might look something like this:
Then attach the documents you want to fax and type a cover letter in the body of your email. If your recipient is using a traditional fax machine, then your fax will be delivered to that fax machine and received just as if it were a traditional fax. However, if your recipient is also using an online fax service, the fax will arrive in their inbox as an email or message (depending on the service).
That’s all there is to it.
How Hushmail for Healthcare supports online fax services
Ensures TLS encryption
Hushmail’s A+ grade SSL/TLS connection automatically supports a fax service’s TLS connection if one exists. It’s important to verify with your fax service that it uses TLS encryption.
It is also possible to configure your Hushmail account settings to force a TLS connection with certain fax domains. This means your Hushmail account will only allow you to send and receive faxes from that fax service if they are encrypted all the way through the fax’s journey with TLS. That way, you can be assured that your faxes are encrypted and secure from the time they leave the fax service to their arrival in your Hushmail inbox.
To ensure that Hushmail has forced TLS for your fax service, contact Customer Care and provide us with your fax service’s sending domain. This is the same domain that you use when you send a fax. Here are some popular, HIPAA-compliant fax domains:
Stores your HIPAA-compliant communications in one place
Because your Hushmail account can securely receive your HIPAA-compliant faxes, you have the convenience of being able to handle your online communications, including your emails, forms, and faxes, all in one place. There is no need to access a separate email account to manage your faxes.
Provides BAA for seamless HIPAA compliance
If you have a Hushmail for Healthcare account, that means you signed a BAA with Hushmail. Because your fax service is a service provider that will handle PHI, it will also need to provide a BAA if you want to maintain HIPAA compliance. When you have a BAA with both services, you can feel confident that responsibility for protecting the PHI has been transferred to Hushmail and the fax service. Two BAAs give you seamless protection in case of a HIPAA audit.
It’s time to move on from traditional fax
Just like making the shift from paper forms to online forms, or handwritten signatures to e-signatures, switching from traditional fax to online fax can yield significant benefits for your practice, including greater convenience, efficiency, and cost and time savings.
When you add a HIPAA-compliant fax service to Hushmail for Healthcare services, you can be confident in the security of your clients’ PHI when you send it via email, online forms, or fax. Having that extra peace of mind in case of a HIPAA audit is reason enough to move on from traditional fax once and for all.
Support your online fax security by signing up for Hushmail for Healthcare today.