Digital things are nice sometimes, but there are times when it's overkill. One such place is physical diagnostics. Nowadays everything is digital. It's next to impossible to find a manual BP cuff, to the point where I'm thinking of carrying one in my coat. And the new rage is the digital stethoscope.

This stuff is ludicrous. And I say so as someone who owns 3 digital cameras and buys DVDs and CDs with some sort of unholy compulsion. Obviously, technology offers benefits, otherwise I'd be wasting my money. But it's not without its follies.

With cameras, everyone loves digital for the convenience, but truth be told, I'd rather shoot film. Film is an art. It takes skill and care and a thorough understanding of the medium. It captures a range of colors and shades that is unmatched by digital. Even the crappiest film picture rivals the best digital can offer.

Don't get me wrong, I've gone through 2 rolls of film in the last year, and I own 3 digital cameras. I've obviously been sold on digital, but it's no substitute for film. It'd be like trying to replace a Steinway grand piano with a Casio.

But when it comes to medical diagnostics, there is no replacement for analog. We've sold into this digital world, with automated BP cuffs and pulse monitors, but if you've ever worked with me, you should know that I trust these things like I trust a rabid coyote in a butcher shop.

You simply cannot replace the art of BP measurement with a machine. And similarly, I wouldn't trust a digital stethoscope, because it is simply taking sound, making it digital just to make it analog again.

Part of the wonder of medicine is interacting with people, and it makes me a little sad to think that we're coming up with more and more ways to distance ourselves.

No comments: