By Dr. Paul Feuerstein
A recent slip on black ice here in New England landed me with a dislocated shoulder, closed reduction, a sling to immobilize it, and the loss of my ability to drive for a while. Along with not being able to see patients, I am not free to run back and forth to my office to finish up end-of-year paperwork or handle some of the ongoing patient and office matters.
All is not lost though as I have complete access to all of my office files and computers from home. Using a couple of remote access products, I have been able to run end-of-year reports, look at radiographs, and essentially do anything I would have been doing if I were sitting at my desk. As advanced as we are however, I do not have the intraoral cameras set up to do remote diagnosis, although it is feasible. I might try this when I get back in operation.
This is all done with one of three products that we have been using. Over the past two years we have been using gotomypc.com, logmein.com, and imintouch.com. Why three? Mostly out of curiosity as a “reporter.” Since there are fees for each computer being used, it’s not much more than if all were under one service. All of these services allow you to set up one (or more) computers with the service. All you need is Internet access and a Web browser on any computer.
The first product we used was gotomypc.com. I heard a radio ad that said I could get a month free if I punched in the secret code. The secret code merely sends the DJ a couple of bucks – you can usually get the free first month even without the code (or maybe I can get one for my readers – if I do that, I will be glad to send any revenues to charity). For under $20 a month, I have complete access to my office manager’s computer. All I do is log in and her screen is on my screen at home. My mouse and keyboard control that computer as if I were sitting there. Thus I can look at the schedule, see patient charts and radiographs, run reports, etc. Of course, if she were at the desk, I would be interfering with her work, so I save this for times she is away.
My office desk and the server are hooked into logmein.com. If I am at home, no one is (supposedly) at my desk computer. There is a free version which provides remote access, but the paid version also allows me to use my printer at home with the remote computer as well as transfer files back and forth. You could, of course, do a little trick which I did before I decided to pay the fee. If there was a file or document that I needed, I simply opened up the e-mail on my desktop, attached that file, and e-mailed it to myself, thus being able to retrieve it at home.
The third service we have been trying is imintouch.com. This has similar features to the other two but also offers a “wake up” service. The other two require that your computer be turned on. Imintouch.com allows you to turn off the computer you are looking at as long as one computer in the network is on – most offices leave the servers on 24/7. The computer to be awakened has to be newer, with a feature on the current motherboard that allows this.
Another great use I’ve found is helping my mother, who lives in New York and although somewhat computer savvy, finds ways to disturb Windows or other settings. I used to spend a lot of time with her on the phone – hit this key, type this command, etc. Now I just log on to her computer while she is on the phone, and we go through things step by step as she watches and I type.
I can also monitor my son, who is in high school and seems to sit for hours at his computer, “doing work.” With his permission, at critical times like finals, my wife logs on to his desktop using her laptop in another part of the house. A quick glance will let her know if he is reading the latest comics or his math assignment. A bit Orwellian perhaps, but there is a big sign on his screen stating that he is being seen via logmein.com. Of course, he has figured out a way to block us so we always need permission to do this (as it should be).
All of these services have monthly charges that increase as you add computers. If you prepay for a year, there are discounts, and the companies often offer multiple computers for a lower fee. Logmein.com allows you to use the service for free – it is fine for basic use, but I found the paid version a bit more helpful. Take a look, get a free trial, and see how they work.
By Dr. Paul Feuerstein