Across VA, faxing remains one of the primary methods of information transfer across facilities for many reasons. This is because some legal documents, such as those relating to pharmaceuticals and health care, must be provided in hard copies to be considered valid. In VHA and VBA facilities, the records departments are often required to print medical files, put them in a scanning device, and fax the copies to civilian doctors, hospitals, and attorneys. Additionally, many Veterans and their beneficiaries till prefer to fax documents rather than rely on email or other digital methods. Locations without electronic or cloud fax management capabilities report a heavy burden on staff who must manually fax physical documents. Manual faxing also requires staff to diligently watch over Personal Identifying Information and Protected Health Information. There are multiple contracted electronic fax services locally configured and implemented across the Enterprise — but that’s about to change.
OIT’s Account Management Office and Development, Security, Operations (DevSecOps) divisions have been closely collaborating on a new, cloud-based faxing solution that will eliminate the need for multiple faxing services. The Enterprise Cloud Fax Service Project, or ECFax, is a proposed enterprise-wide, scalable, secure, cloud-based electronic fax system that promises increased efficiency and security, while decreasing the time and cost associated with manual faxing.
According to Frank Joy, the ECFax Program Manager, “Bringing ECFax Service to life isn’t just about a cool new service capability; it’s about transforming, in a fundamental way, VA’s ability to support delivery of vital services and benefits to our nations Veterans in the 21st Century through the establishment of a unified, core common capability.”
The goal of the service is to implement a digital, commercial off-the-shelf faxing and data transfer Software as a Service, which will:
- Reduce the large number of faxing related service contracts awards with multiple vendors to a single, unified service
- Interface with Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook, with VA’s new Electronic Health Record, with Multifunction Devices, and across other workstreams
- Allow users to fax remotely from their work laptops, iPhones, and other devices and from the existing printers and copiers in their facilities, and allow the files to be delivered to anywhere in the VA
- Further secure and protect Personal Identifying Information and Protected Health Information, as it reduces the inherent security risk associated with faxing via phone lines
- Reduce the burden on staff and eliminate recurring costs related to faxing needs
- Support customer business requirements through multiple means of delivery
“This has been a labor of love,” says William Young, one of the project leads on the ECFax program. “So many people across the organization have told us ‘This is a great idea,’ and so we kept pushing, and now it’s finally going to be a reality.”
The ECFax solution supports the Office of Information and Technology’s Business Transformation imperative, using a “buy first” approach to new systems by leveraging cloud infrastructure and automating tedious tasks. The service will also reduce demands for consumable supplies (such as printer paper and toner) by further streamlining digital workflows, scaling to meet new VA business requirements, and reducing VA’s physical footprint for hosting servers and telecommunication services. Once ECFax is live, VA administrations, offices, and facilities will have the opportunity to onboard to this new solution — and one of the major benefits is that the more VA uses the ECFax solution, the greater the cost benefit.
Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.