What does a secure fax machine look like?

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in almost 6 months. Classic scenario of two friends in the same city but too busy to get together.  When he asked me how things were going with work, I explained how we’re creating a uniquely new communication platform for enterprise clients, especially for restaurantsretail, and healthcare.

I shared with my friend about how a few months ago we added a feature to the mobile app to allow for secure photo sharing via our encrypted messaging technology. I used the illustration of a nurse needing to send a photo of a patient with swollen feet who may be suffering from severe diabetes to a doctor for treatment options.

Historically, for many in-home care settings, the nurse will use a digital camera to take photos, return to the office and download to a company computer, and then send via email to a doctor. I explained how Red e App can make the process 1) so much faster, 2) still maintain privacy and security, and 3) allow real-time feedback to the nurse while still in the home so that the patient is treated and allowed to return to health sooner.

I smiled and thought I’d pitched my friend pretty well.

My friend laughed. Why? He’s a doctor. He said, “I totally get it. Just the other night I was on-call (my friend is an ER doc) and I had to send an emergency EKG to the cardiologist. I wasn’t near a fax machine so I just took a picture with my iPhone and texted it to him. He texted me back with his diagnosis.” I asked him: “Why a fax?”


Here are the formal guidelines given by HIPAA:

What information may be faxed?

Always send the minimum information necessary. Best practice is to confirm correct fax number prior to sending, include a cover letter with a confidentiality statement and to ensure receipt via phone call.

Did my friend have time to find a fax machine, create a cover letter, and then call to ensure receipt? Not according to him.

Did he knowingly want to follow the best practices and guidelines of HIPAA? Yes.

Did he have time based on the situation? No.

So he used the technology he had with him, his smart phone, and got the immediate information he needed to provide the best emergency care for the patient.

Red e App for healthcare isn’t just about secure mobile messaging or mobile app technology. It’s about equipping medical care professionals with a secure, private, and immediate communication channel for the health and well-being of patients and providing the required privacy and security mandated by law.

The future of healthcare communication is mobile. In fact, it always has been. It’s just that now the secure fax machine is in the scrubs pocket of the medical professional, not stuck at the receptionists desk.

Patrick Goodman
Red e App Product and Engagement Director
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