Is it time to retire your office modem?
Dr. John O’Keefe, Director of Knowledge Networks at CDA, interviewed Geoff Valentine, Manager of Health Informatics at CDA, about emerging issues surrounding the use of modems in dental offices for the transmission of dental claims.
Listen to the audio interview
How important is the modem to conduct business in Canadian dental offices today?
- Very important.
- 25-40% of dentists still using modems.
- Much higher just a few years ago.
- There are still dentists with no internet at the front desk in the office.
Do you see problems looming for dental offices that still use modems to transmit claims?
- Availability of modems and computers with serial ports.
- People who know how to configure them.
- Potential security issue.
What impact can these issues have on the smooth running of the dental office?
- If the modem setup stops working, going to the Internet will likely be the best choice. However, it will mean bringing the Internet to the front desk, ensuring its security, ensuring the computers are compatible, etc. Down time may be weeks, not days.
- Carriers are quickly moving away from mailing anything to dental offices, and are pushing dentists to receive payments for assigned benefits with direct deposit and retrieving payment statements online. Continuing to use a modem means dentists will be paying for both Internet in the office, and the phone line for sending claims.
If my modem breaks, is finding a replacement that will work well difficult?
- Online only from specialty IT sites.
- PCs with serial port..
What advice do you have for dental offices that still use modems?
- Sooner or later modem technology will be retired. A date has not been set, CDA, carriers and the networks are beginning to think about it.
- I would suggest that dentists think about making an orderly transition to bringing the Internet to the front office in the relatively near term, rather than risking the disruption and panic that may occur if the modem technology stops working one day, and finding replacement gear proves to be a challenge.
Are there major cost implications to changing to a system that doesn’t rely on a modem?
- An Internet-connected system must be secured against viruses, malware, etc.
- Windows XP will no longer be supported as of April 2014.
- So, if the office PCs have Windows 7 or 8, then the cost is to bring in the Internet. Converting to ITRANS is part of the membership with the provincial dental association and CDA and therefore there is no additional fee.
- If the office PCs are running Windows XP, then computer upgrades are needed.
- Maybe a cost to connect other systems to new PCs – digital x-rays, intraoral cameras, etc.
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