Question: I have a PDF document on my computer. Can I email it so that it is answered by a fax machine? (from a corporate user in the health industry in the United States)
The quick answer is, no, there is no way to directly email a PDF attachment from a “regular” email address to a “regular” fax machine. They’re two different networks that cannot communicate with each other.
However, there are some ways to make an email system be able to transmit to the phone network (to reach a fax machine).
1) an online fax service – it acts as a fax machine that exists in the cloud – you can email to the service, and it forwards the PDF to the requested fax number on your behalf. It can also forward any received faxes to an email address as well.
In regards to your application as working with the health industry – we’ve never screened the services that we’ve reviewed for things such as HIPPA compliance – these may or may not be the right services for your specific application. We’ve never looked at products from the perspective of HIPPA.
2) a hosted fax server – RightFax is the first product that comes to my mind for this – it’s very similar to an online fax service however the server is located on an organization’s network. Providers can be contacted directly, or most office equipment vendors (Ricoh / Canon / Xerox / etc.) carry and service the product. There are also open source options such as Hylafax and Hylafax++ that come to mind.
3) a fax machine that has email to fax enabled (this can also be a copier / MFP (Multi Function Printer) with a fax board and email to fax capabilities).
Most “commercial grade” fax machines and MFPs have the option for email to fax – office equipment vendors (Ricoh / Canon / Xerox / etc.) would be the best providers for these.