Q&A: Jake Smith, CIO, Discusses Cloud Faxing in Healthcare

    September 2020 | Audrey Brislin

    Expert Insights, Information Exchange & Faxing

    Q&A session with Forward Advantage CIO on how cloud technology provides a viable way to modernize faxing in healthcare. 

    I recently interviewed our CIO here at Forward Advantage, Jake Smith, to learn what he predicts for faxing in the marketplace and the role that cloud faxing plays. While he’s of the opinion that cloud faxing “doesn’t boil the ocean, he does see specific benefits of cloud faxing in healthcare, including improving disaster recovery, data redundancy, and reliability.     


    We’re fortunate to have an experienced and knowledgeable CIO guiding our technology strategy. Jake continues to listen to the needs of our business and supports our brand promise and company mission. Read how Jake views cloud faxing and how healthcare organizations can balance the need for faxing and modernizing technology infrastructures. 


    Q: Describe your role as CIO at Forward Advantage. 

    A: As CIO, I work with our teams to ensure that technology supports their missions, but I also work with them to help evaluate and deploy technology that brings added value, efficiencies, and new ways to evolve. A CIOs role is to ensure the business doesn’t fall behind, and that’s one of the big things that cloud faxing can do. It doesn’t solve all problems, but it does solve a lot and can be easily integrated. 


    Q: What are the pros and cons of FoIP faxing versus cloud faxing? 

    A: Our cloud fax offering doesn't use tradition FoIP technology. It uses newer, secure API technology that reduces complexity and increase reliability. This reduces the amount of time needed to support the technology, which is what we all want, right?


    Q: Why is cloud faxing particularly important to today’s organizations?

    A: Fax still serves a very real and important need in many markets – and specifically fills a vital role in healthcare. Many providers don’t have the ability to take in electronic transmissions from multiple EHRs, so fax is still one of the most common methods of distributing lab results and referrals. Cloud fax allows organizations to modernize that delivery mechanism to fall in line with more advanced technologies and architectures.


    Q: Do you think a hybrid faxing model (the option to use traditional fax and cloud-based faxing with the same fax vendor) has benefits?

    A: If an organization has a high demand for redundancy, then absolutely! Cloud fax provides a separate path which, when used in a hybrid model, can address reliability or redundancy concerns.

    Also, there are several options available for cloud-fax deployments. This gives healthcare organizations options and the flexibility to choose the fax service that best suits their needs


    Q: What should CIOs look for when evaluating cloud fax solutions?

    A: The term "cloud" can be used very differently, so one of the big things to look for is whether the solution is just another SIP trunk being rebranding as “cloud” or if it uses more modern technologies. Security is also, of course, a big concern for any CIO in the medical vertical. Is the transport encrypted? Is the provider HIPAA compliant and willing to sign a BAA? These are just a couple of the questions that should be asked and considered heavily.


    Q: What implementation best practices would you recommend?

    A: Like any technology, it's important to be clear on the problems you’re trying to address and the metrics you’ll use measure the project’s success. I also recommend planning the porting of inbound numbers and the cutover process with overlapping operations in mind, because the timing of porting can be unpredictable.


    Q: Can you comment on the ROI potential of cloud faxing?

    A: Every environment and organization is unique, so ROI is not a one-size-fits all discussion. Costs associated with traditional faxing include staffing resources, on-premises space, power, cooling, and hardware maintenance and depreciation. With Cloud fax, the total cost of ownership should be considered. There are a lot of inexpensive VoIP and SIP providers, but how do they scale? What’s their failure rate? What are their additional installation and integration costs? Do you need additional circuits to support disaster recovery? What is their security model? If these are not all considered, a seemingly inexpensive option quickly becomes much more costly.


    Q: Do you have any predictions for where the technology is headed?

    A: Ever since the popularization of email, we’ve been hearing that fax is dead. The reality is that fax fits a unique need in the market and isn't going anywhere. Likewise, I don't think anyone needs a crystal ball to know that more infrastructure and services are going to continue to be provided via cloud providers. Just because fax is a legacy technology doesn't mean it has to hold back your strategic technology plan. We don't need to solve all problems at once. However, as IT leaders, we should see incremental changes that allow us to modernize technologies where possible for additional business value.


    Despite being considered a legacy technology, faxing serves an important, ongoing purpose in healthcare and is here to stay. Cloud faxing provides a way to modernize fax to meet the needs of your environment, end users and recipients. It doesn’t solve all problems, but it does solve many. Cloud faxing is particularly beneficial for organizations looking for improved reliability, path redundancy or disaster recovery. Forward Advantage CloudFax Connector is a great option for Communication Director customers to make a smooth transition to the cloud.

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