Fragmented solutions and the need to change
John Harrison, Concord’s Chief Commercial Officer, recently spoke with Matt Fisher, the host of the Healthcare de Jure podcast. They discussed the benefits of digital fax in healthcare as well as its maturation into more advanced applications, like data extraction using artificial intelligence (AI).
Even with all of John’s years of experience in both technology and healthcare, he’s still surprised at the level of fragmentation in the market. Most healthcare organizations—including health systems, individual providers, and insurance companies—lack an efficient way to share data and struggle with interoperability challenges daily. As an industry professional, John acknowledged that the limitations of the current fax-based data exchange are the result of piecemeal, fragmented solutions, prone to inefficiencies and errors.
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The first step of maturation
When healthcare organizations take that first big step away from paper and toward digital fax via basic digital transmission, they’re leveraging a software alternative for improved accountability and workflow. As the recipient views the electronic image of the document, the errors and pains made common by the need to process paper faxes are virtually eliminated. So is much of the human overhead typically spent triaging documents. Still, basic digital fax is only the tip of the digital data exchange iceberg.
Unlocking data, gaining insights
As an organization’s digital fax strategy evolves, it progresses along five maturation levels. After realizing the benefits of swapping paper-based fax for digital, the organization can then integrate digital fax with administrative, clinical and financial applications for outbound faxing. Level three supports integration for both inbound and outbound faxing. Level four features implementation of advanced technologies, such as machine learning and Natural Language Processing, to analyze inbound documents and automatically extract discrete field data, including names, dates of birth, dates of encounters, and similar, and enter these data into various applications.
At Concord, we use AI to enable both reading and routing of faxes. This AI gives our system the power to automatically extract data from documents in order to identify the patient, important clinical information, and priority level of the communication. Further, as an organization’s digital fax strategy matures, the inbound data can be indexed and populated directly into the EHR. We see a huge shift from static documentation into interactive communications, opening up an expansive landscape of opportunity for this type of automation in healthcare for all parties.
Organizations at the very top maturity level, five, can use the unlocked data insights to drive quality, compliance and revenue improvement initiatives. Stakeholders can better understand business processes driven by fax-based communications and how they can be improved and optimized. In transitions of care, John noted, time is critical from both a revenue and patient care perspective. For example, deeper understanding of how a health system can reduce admitting times is very valuable, and the data can yield that clarity and lead to operational improvements.
A sharp focus on the future
As digital fax technologies continue to mature, Concord will extract more and more data from communications to help generate stronger, more precise digital records. As digital data is exchanged fluidly among organizations, the industry at large moves closer to an interoperable system that benefits both senders and recipients of PHI for faster and improved decision-making.