Stop using old paper fax machines and be HIPAA compliant while going green

Posted: Dec 11, 2014
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The cost to the environment

1 million trees could be saved every year if 5% of organizations switched to a paperless cloud faxing solution. Conventional fax machines are responsible for consuming more than 200 billion pages of paper each year in the US alone – a single machine uses an average of 5,000 sheets of paper annually. In addition to excessive paper consumption, conventional fax machines need to be constantly on and running in order to receive faxes, meaning further impact on the environment through wasting electricity.

Creating paper has a huge impact on the environment. Historically, the production of paper has ranked among the most resource-intensive and highly polluting manufacturing industries of all time.

Creating paper uses water, energy and chemicals. In the US, the paper industry is the largest user per ton of product of industrial process water, the third largest industrial consumer of energy, and ranks fourth among industrial sectors in emissions of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals to water, and third in such releases to air. The transportation of paper products causes additional environmental impact through the emissions created during transit and distribution.

There have been advances in the way in which paper is manufactured that have significantly reduced the environmental impact, and since 1993, the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) introduced forest certification with the aim of promoting better forest management. This means a mechanism is now in place to ensure the proper management of forests from an environmental, social, and economic perspective.

However, globally, only about 10% of the world’s forests are certified, and the FSC has come under scrutiny as it promotes the idea that consumption is fine, as long as it is certified. With the remaining 90% being uncertified, deforestation and illegal logging continues to go on all around the world.

The cost to your organization

The cost per sheet of paper used is also astronomical. A single fax transmission will need to be properly stored, and due to the sensitive nature of protected health information (PHI), disposed of in the correct manner too. By the time you’ve factored the servicing, toner and electricity used by a traditional fax machine, the cost of using a single sheet of paper soon adds up!

The risk of breach when transmitting sensitive information such as PHI is much higher when using paper fax vs. a cloud based alternative. Paper faxes sit exposed in the tray until they are retrieved, and the phone lines that they are transmitted over are not encrypted.

Paper fax machines are wasteful, expensive, and do not offer a secure way of transmitting PHI. Secure cloud fax from Sfax can be accessed on a range of devices, and transmits fully encrypted ePHI, meaning that your organization can not only save money and the environment, but can be assured that they are protected against the risk of HIPAA breaches.  Ensuring the safe transmission and storage of PHI can only be made easier by removing paper from the equation wherever possible.