CUSTOMER SUCCESS STORY
Barnes Healthcare Improves Customer Communication with Secure Virtual Server
Barnes Healthcare Services (BHS) was founded in 1909 by Charles W. Barnes, RPh, in a corner drug store in Valdosta, Georgia. The business has been passed down through three generations to Charles W. Barnes, III, whose vision, dedication to patients, and desire to be the best provider has grown the business to fifteen locations in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Today, BHS is one of the largest privately-owned medical equipment companies in the country. With the buying power of such groups as Medgroup and VGM, all fifteen locations are able to perform same-day transfer of inventory from store to store, to make sure their homecare patients are getting the best quality products and highest level of care.
In early 2011, Barnes Healthcare Services was experiencing a crisis of confidence with its Web-based fax service. The service was unreliable, causing BHS employees and homecare customers to worry that sent or received faxes would not be delivered. Because the home healthcare industry remains largely fax-based, this unreliability was a significant issue for BHS..
“The Web-based fax service we were using wasn’t reliable,” said Ben McLendon, Director, Information Technology at BHS. “We experienced issues, including the system being down frequently, and delayed delivery of faxes to our customers. The end result was a trust issue–customers began to doubt that we could communicate with them efficiently. We had to find a way to restore customer confidence and demonstrate that the faxes critical to their work and business would be delivered rapidly and without mistakes.”
Since new business communications at BHS are often delivered through a faxing service, it was also imperative to find a fax solution that allowed BHS to effectively interact with referral sources, like a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic – any place where a patient is currently being treated but will eventually depart to receive care within their home. BHS sends and receives medical equipment orders, invoices, and prescriptions from doctors, physical therapists, and hospitals.
“We receive some electronic orders but the industry is still predominantly fax-based,” said McLendon. “And since more than half of the faxed pages we receive come from referral sources, we needed a solution that addressed this important aspect of our daily business.”
“The requirement for signed documents means a fax must also be sent for many prescriptions,” said McLendon. “If you have a patient that needs oxygen, that’s actually considered a drug and we have to have a signed prescription for that.”
- Unreliable web-based fax service
- Delayed fax delivery
- Lost customer confidence
- Biscom Hybrid Fax Solution
- Non-stop business continuity, with no additional hardware
- Ability to access and manage comments on inbound faxes in order to achieve HIPAA compliance
- Comprehensive ability to see and manage fax history through reporting tools.
We had to find a way to restore customer confidence and demonstrate that the faxes critical to their work and business would be delivered rapidly and without mistakes.
BHS conducted an exploratory program and evaluated several different fax technology systems. This research led them to Biscom and its enterprise cloud fax service.
Biscom’s hosted fax service provides email-to-fax and enterprise fax capabilities to a wide variety of businesses, from small offices to Fortune 50 companies. It provides the functionality of a traditional fax server with the convenience and flexibility of a hosted service. Biscom’s enterprise cloud fax service offers healthcare organizations many valuable features, including:
- Centralized administration, integration with Active Directory, enterprise applications, and email
- Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption between the enterprise and Biscom’s hosted fax service
This architecture that enables organizations to:
- Facilitate compliance with such data protection regulations as HIPAA, HITECH, SOX, PCI, SAS-70, GLB, and NIST
- Send and receive faxes from Outlook, Exchange, SharePoint, Microsoft Office, and automated production applications
- Store faxes and fax data within a company’s enterprise, not archived on cloud-based servers
- Use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to integrate with MFPs, Health IT systems, and customized, in-house applications
Going Beyond Hosted
McLendon notes that another valuable part of working with Biscom is not just its cloud fax service, but also its hybrid functionality. “We like that Biscom’s cloud fax service is a hybrid solution where BHS has a virtual server,” said McLendon. “That means our users connect to a local virtual machine and are not connecting over the Internet. All communication between BHS computers and users is within our network and then there is a single, identical interface whether document communications are processed on our in-house fax servers or via the cloud-based hosted fax servers over the Internet. This gives us extra peace of mind regarding security, which is vital in a HIPAA environment.”
Supplementing a premises-based fax server with a hosted fax service provides the best of both worlds, ensuring un-interruptible fax connectivity and business continuity. During normal operations, all fax activity can use the local fax server for transmission. Should the fax server go down, all fax traffic can automatically fail over to the hosted service—all with the same user interface.
The advantage of such an implementation: neither hardware failure, telecom failure, nor Internet failure alone can interrupt fax traffic. Combining both solutions also enables system administrators to focus maximum resources on building, managing, and supporting fax servers at the organization’s largest and busiest geographical locations or departments, while at the same time using the hosted fax service to support smaller remote sites that do not justify a dedicated fax server.
Barnes Healthcare Services has realized the following benefits with Biscom’s fax service:
- Capability to add notes to faxes that helps with achieving HIPAA compliance:
“Our users’ workflow requirements included a need to be able to access and manage comments on inbound faxes,” says McLendon. “To help achieve HIPAA compliance, our staff must be able to compose comments on these fax documents. The comments feature is incredibly important to us.”
- Accurately recorded status of all fax documents through advanced tracking, routing and reporting tools:
“In many cases our employees fax clinical paperwork to physicians which require a signature,” McLendon said. “Biscom gives BHS a comprehensive ability to see and manage our fax history. Other systems we tried weren’t able to handle this as well as Biscom does.”
- Time savings:
Using “Shared Phonebook” functionality, users avoid having to create and manage separate fax address lists. McLendon notes, “Biscom’s Shared Phonebook is better than that of other fax service systems. With many of the outbound faxes our employees are sending, the destination address doesn’t change. Not having to maintain separate phonebooks is a tremendous time saver for BHS.”
- Non-stop business continuity:
The Hybrid fax deployment from Biscom provides scalable fax resources, whenever needed, to handle peaks in workflow
For Ben McLendon and Barnes Healthcare Services, Biscom’s Enterprise Hybrid Fax deployment delivers unparalleled results in the most dynamic of industries: “From a feature and functionality standpoint, Biscom is the best we’ve come across. We are now able to communicate with our customers without problems, and have re-earned their trust.”