Today I got an email from a doctor asking the following question “How do I implement a fax server in my office? I have a server and 7 workstations. I have a fax line and a fax machine.” After typing a long reply I decided that information about setting up a fax server in a Doctor’s Office might be useful to all EMR and HIPAA readers. The following is my email reply:
I think you might be misunderstanding a fax server a little. A fax server is a special type of fax machine that usually is hooked up to your server. Most regular fax machines can’t be used as a fax server. You can read more about fax servers on wikipedia.
There are a number of different ways to set it up, but most people connect the fax line to the fax server, and the fax server to the server. Then, ideally you use active directory to share the fax server with in your case the 7 workstations in your office. You can also do this manually if you don’t use active directory in your office.
In order to get the faxes off of the fax server, I personally set up a folder on the server where all the faxes arrive. I then shared the folder on the server with all the workstations I want to access the received faxes. Here again I did this with active directory, but you can also do it manually too.
It’s also important to select the fax software you want to use with your Fax Server. Windows 2003 Server comes with good enough software for most people or you can find a ton of different fax softwares out there that are in the $50-100 range. I personally just use the Windows 2003 fax server software. It keeps a log of all incoming faxes and even all of the faxes sent. With Windows 2003 Small Business Server, it’s really easy to setup the fax server software. I imagine it’s not that difficult with any Windows 2003 server, but it might take a little looking to find where to configure it.
I also have seen that not all fax servers are the same. I wish that I was more of an expert, but I’ve just taken the hit or miss approach. One that I purchased was a little troublesome and the other one has worked really smoothly. I found a list of compatible fax devices on the Microsoft website at one point, but for some reason I didn’t follow it. It might have been because of price or it was outdated. I don’t remember exactly why.
I also recommend keeping your regular fax machine around. Ideally you’d have it set up on a separate phone line so that you have a back up fax machine if your fax server fails, has problems or something else crazy. Always nice to have a little redundancy for the inevitable problems with technology.
Best of luck getting it set up. It really is a HUGE benefit to a doctor’s office. Once it’s set up, then all you’ll ever need to really do is learn to clear out faxes that failed to be sent (ie. fax number is incorrect) and to restart the fax server occasionally.
Let me know if you have any questions.