How to Improve Veterans Care with Enhanced Communications

Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and medical centers across the U.S. have turned to secure messaging solutions

Fax solutions play a critical role in automating and streamlining communications across a variety of industries, including healthcare. Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and medical centers across the U.S. have turned to secure messaging solutions to help improve veterans care.

More than 75 VA facilities across the U.S. (and counting) leverage a secure communications platform to improve veterans care. That’s because it is the only solution that integrates secure fax workflows – meeting the most stringent HIPAA requirements – with voice, email, and text communications to engage patients and staff, creating a comprehensive platform designed to meet the needs of today’s VA and other healthcare facilities.

The network fax solution is a simple, reliable platform that eliminates the manual administrative tasks that every healthcare organization strives to provide but does not have the resources to support. As the VA explores new ways to reach and care for our nation’s veterans, especially those with an elevated suicide risk, these facilities are employing creative ways of engaging patients.

So, we wanted to share some of the amazing ways these medical centers are using such solutions to improve veterans care:

  • Event and appointment reminders: Many of the VA facilities use a notification feature to remind patients of their upcoming appointments (and enable them to reschedule appointments), while others have used it to alert recipients of a veterans event (boosting attendance by 35 percent) and drive attendance to mobile vaccination services for veterans.
  • Patient engagement: Gauging patient feedback has been extremely difficult, relying on low-response processes like paper and mail-based surveys or cumbersome manual dialing. Many of these techniques result in less than 10 percent response rates. One VA deployed an interactive engagement function to automate phone surveys to 600 patients, which generated an unprecedented 70 percent response rate (and more than 90 percent responded positively to their care at the VA).
  • Fax workflows: An integrated fax solution freed up a purchasing department logjam by providing a quicker, more efficient way of faxing out the purchase orders. The secure fax server replaced the analog machines and turned the purchasing agents’ office desktops into highly efficient workstations, saving workers more than 12 hours a week. It also meant an 83 percent reduction in purchase order processing time and hundreds of pages of paper saved per day in each office.
  • Research projects: VA medical centers performing research with commercial healthcare organizations aren’t always on the same network but still need to share confidential information, which can be as large as 500 GB files. These facilities use a secure file sharing solution, where external teams can upload larger files, route faxes, and scan paper documents from a multi-function device (MFD) right into a secure, permissions-based folder. Users then get a secure message with a link to the folder. The solution also supports automated scanning from an MFD to a secure location inside or outside the network, which even includes a reverse-forward proxy layer for additional file transfer security.
  • Emergency notifications: In preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and most recently Hurricane Irma, a VA network in the southeastern U.S. tapped the automated notification feature embedded in its solution to quickly disperse critical information to patients regarding facility closures, schedule changes, and appointment cancellations through voice, text, and email alerts. The quick thinking and response meant hundreds of patients didn’t have to put their lives in danger trying to make an appointment.
  • Positive reinforcement: One VA network enabled patients in remote locations to connect with a hospital or caregiver from the comfort of their homes via telehealth devices. An automated notification feature automated positive reinforcement communication to patients, a tactic that reminded patients to upload their daily vitals and was proven to increase device usage. Patients could be reached for a fraction of the effort and cost of the previous manual method, and the network now has a 98% patient response rate, the highest in the country. With the VA recently introducing legislation to implement expanded telehealth options, such capabilities will become increasingly important for veterans care.

These are just a few of the creative ways that VA facilities across the country are using secure fax and messaging platforms to improve communications, engagement, and patient care for our veterans.