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Mind Your Business Oasis Podcasts Professional Issues

Is it time to retire your office modem?

Geoff's PicPodcast Icon SmallDr. 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



Interview Highlights

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?

  • Yes.
  • 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?

It depends:

    • 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.


Do you have any particular question on this topic? Do you have any comments or suggestions? Email us at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

You are invited to comment on this post and provide further insights by posting in the comment box which you will find by clicking on “Post a reply” below. You are welcome to remain anonymous and your email address will not be posted. 


  1. James Hu April 2, 2014

    I tried moving from Modem to CDA-Net but I keep getting issues (claims not going through processing errors. The Practice Management software company says everything is ok on their part. The itrans/cda net says everything is ok on their part. I’m just given the run around. Using the modem everything works just fine!!!

  2. Jeff bilodeau April 2, 2014

    As far as I know Alberta Blue Cross won’t accept claims over the internet- so it’s modem or mail.

  3. HZ April 3, 2014

    Actually, ABC used to only accept claims through the modem, but they’ve actually modernized their system to accept internet submissions. I don’t know if they have revamped things for National ABC claims as those we still seem to have to submit through paper claims. You might try calling them to verify things.

    Modems are pretty reliable and aren’t that difficult to get, but they are so slow. With a busy day it gets old quickly! It’s like those stores that still have the merchant credit card machines that are still on dial-up versus the ones they have at Walmart which are super quick.

    James – you might want to get your PMS company to log in and double check things as most online claims usually go through without trouble. Sometimes certain ones do have network issues (FAS), and others always say Claim acknowledged, but most of the time things do work well.

    1. james April 5, 2014

      Been there done that. I use Dentrix and have asked them to remote log in and see if everything is correct. They have done so on more than one occasion and they have confirmed that everything is fine on their end and to check with CDA-net/itrans. I have done the same with CDA-net/ Itrans and according to them everything is right on their end and I should check with the DPM software company. I have tried to sort this out on 3 occasions after which I gave up and went back to modem submission.

      1. HZ May 13, 2014

        Hmm that’s very strange. I don’t know about Dentrix, but I’ve been using Cleardent for about 5 years now, and the majority of EDI claims are processed online with no problems. We still do get our share of issues thought. Last Saturday iTrans was completely not working so it was back to manual paper claims!

        It sounds like you’re happy with the tried and true modem submission method so sometimes it may not be worth it to try fixing what’s not broken.

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