Somebody’s Watching Me

11 Nov 2015 Paul Feuerstein, DMD
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SciCan’s STATIM G4 Sterilizers.
Planmeca’s Sovereign Chair.
Monitoring water quality with Romexis software.

This month, I offer a glimpse of the future as more companies develop software-controlled and Internet-enabled dental equipment.

In the days before caller ID, you might have received a prank call asking the question “Is your refrigerator running?” “Well, yes,” you’d respond. And then, of course, you’d get hit with this: “Then you better go catch it.”

Today, your practice might get a call from the SciCan Corporation, asking “Is your STATIM G4 Sterilizer running?” You might say yes, but the voice on the other end of the phone line might disagree. The STATIM G4—as well as SciCan’s HYDRIM Instrument Washer—is connected to the Internet and sends a message to a central service center if something has gone wrong. SciCan led the industry with this remote monitoring of dental equipment 2 years ago. There is a small computer inside each unit that monitors every cycle and records it. Some states require this record, so all you need to do is plug a USB drive into the unit and get a copy of the log. If there is a failure, not only does the service center get notified, but you get an email, text, or phone call (based on your preference). The service technician can then log into your unit, run diagnostics, and determine what’s wrong. When the service technician arrives at the practice, he or she can bring the needed parts, hopefully preventing the all-too-common second visit.

This is also happening in our everyday lives. There are home appliances and home security systems that use this technology to monitor everything from our heating and cooling habits (nest.com) to how old the milk is in our refrigerator. If you want to see one group of current home products that can be controlled remotely, visit wemo.com.

As an aside, there is a common scam whereby you receive a phone call from an alleged computer service technician telling you that your computer has a problem. If you give this person access to your computer, he or she can either infect your computer and make it inoperable until you pay a fee (ransom?) or “fix” the problem and bill you an extraordinary amount of money. Unfortunately, there are still gullible and nontechnical people who fall for this ploy.

Another company that is using a great deal of technology today in its equipment is Planmeca. We know of its top-of-the-line radiography products from the ProSensors to the ProMax 3D Cone Beam to the E4D, now renamed PlanScan, which is part of the Planmeca FIT integration. But you might not be as familiar with the Planmeca Sovereign line, an entire line of dental units, chairs, lights, etc, that are not only beautifully designed but have many ergonomic and functional features that are unique and integrated with software control and monitoring.

Planmeca’s chair design differs from most chair designs because its footrest area drops down to 90° so the patient is sitting upright as if in a comfortable chair. Aside from this being a better position in which to talk with the patient about treatment, it makes the chair extremely accessible for patients with ambulatory problems. The big thing though, from the technology standpoint, is connection to the Planmeca Romexis Clinic Management Software. It can be programmed to remember an operator’s chair setting for various procedures, and each operator has his or her own settings. It also monitors the unit’s functions in terms of use and wear; for example, the number of times it has moved, how long the lights have been on, and more. This information is displayed, and the software gives alerts not only of malfunctions but also to let the operator know the unit needs routine service. Also, since these units have self-contained water, treatment protocols and biologic monitoring are also being checked. In addition, all waterlines are monitored for proper biologic standards. And, as to be expected, there are multiple configurations for an office designer to choose from as well as other features too numerous to cover. More information is available at planmeca.com.

This is just a glimpse of the future as more companies develop software-controlled and Internet-enabled dental equipment. I should also note that Sirona Dental recently introduced its Transcendental Treatment Centers at the CEREC 30 event in held in Las Vegas this past September, including the TENEO and INTEGO systems with state-of-the-art integration and Kappler cabinetry. This should lead to centralized monitoring centers at both manufacturer and distributor facilities, which will ultimately lead to better maintenance and cost savings for servicing the practitioners. It also means that when designing new practices, be sure to have extra network inputs in treatment rooms, sterilization areas, labs, and more.

Last modified on Monday, 16 November 2015 20:43
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