Today, I want to do something different from what you might expect from DirectTrust – I want to talk about fax. While today is April 1st, a day known for pranks, I am actually not joking around.

While many industries have moved on to much more technologically sophisticated technology, visit the majority of healthcare organizations across the US and you are likely to still find a fax machine spitting out reams of paper.  With countless money invested in technology, systems, and standards for interoperability, why does fax remain?   

Before we go further, there’s something I need to make sure is on the record – not all fax is the same.  I believe it does a disservice for many in the industry to categorize all fax as not helpful to advancing interoperability. Fax is the first step on the yellow brick road to interoperability; after all, we need communication to begin.  The next steps may come in the form of cloud fax and similar exchange mechanisms, but where the magic really starts to happen and we get closer to “Oz” are new and innovative approaches, like fax to Direct. 

It may be surprising to know that DirectTrust has quite a few members who excel in providing fax services.  These organizations recognize that there is more that can be done with workflows and technology to create a bridge from fax to interoperability, making communication more efficient and data more useful. We should applaud those organizations with core offerings of cloud fax that are spending time, energy, and resources to add new and creative solutions to make fax interoperable, like Fax to Direct (check out etherFAX’s recent announcement), or going even further with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) (like WestFax does) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to map to discrete data elements (like Consensus Cloud Solutions recently announced).  These organizations are doing work to help move the needle and change habits from the old school paper fax machine to the known benefits of interoperable exchange.

As a push-based mechanism, Direct Secure Messaging makes a lot of sense as a replacement for fax, which is why we see many organizations leaning in and adoption continues to climb. Survey any healthcare employee across the country, and I bet they can describe fax to you, but can they describe Direct?

In this vein, DirectTrust’s Marketing and Membership Workgroup wanted to bring attention to Direct Secure Messaging ahead of our upcoming anniversary on April 5th.  Desiring to do something humorous to educate and bring awareness, we settled on the following.  We hope that you enjoy, and please don’t be mad at us if this song becomes stuck in your head.

While our “Let’s Talk About Fax” video may be funny, we really do want to talk about Direct.  We want to see the needle move further towards interoperability, and we need your help.  This isn’t “Fight Club”, the first rule is not “Don’t talk about Direct” – it’s actually the opposite.  We need you to talk about Direct.  Anywhere old school fax is used, we want you to bring up Direct as an alternative.  

There are many organizations who’ve replaced a significant amount of their faxing with Direct and reaped the benefits of fast, accurate, and discrete data exchange. They described their steps for success to us, which we recently published in a new educational resource we encourage you to check out and share

So while today may be April Fools Day, let’s be serious about interoperability, and let’s be serious about advancing Direct Secure Messaging even further to realize its full potential.

This post was contributed by Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser.

Special thanks to Jared Johnson of The Healthcare Rap Podcast and Spire Communications for their help executing this video.