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'Digital' doesn't always mean better for GPs and patients

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I was wandering through a well known department store today and I came across a display for a digital frying pan.  What you may ask has a frying pan got to do with being digital?

Well, apparently it has a digital thermometer built into the handle so you can monitor the cooking temperature of whatever it is your frying.  It even has an alarm to warn you if something isn’t hot enough or about to burn (useful I suppose if your nose doesn’t work).

The packaging information was impressive. It said:

The Digital Thermometer Pan combines the simplicity of a frying pan and the precision of a digital thermometer to make cooking easier with tastier results.

How have I been managing to cook food all these years without one of these gadgets?

There is a warning that the thermometer isn’t waterproof, and is ‘easily’ removed from the handle when washing the pan. I wonder how long it would be before I forget to remove it and ruin it in the dishwasher?

This all seems very over-complicated and the manufacturer is playing on people’s attraction to something ‘digital’ as a shortcut to quality, which only experience can bring to the table (please excuse the witticism).

Which brings me onto the telehealth DES whereby GPs are being offered financial resources to provide remote monitoring for patients with long-term conditions. This is despite mounting evidence that telehealth is expensive, (‘Flagship telehealth scheme “cost £92,000 per QALY”’, 22 March), financially unpredictable, fails to reduce admissions, fails to improve quality of life and psychological wellbeing and isn’t cost-effective (WSD: Summary of the evidence so far, 26 March).

Unfortunately the Government seems determined to introduce it, presumably because politicians think as it involves something digital it will somehow be better.

I’ve got news for them. It will be about as useful as a digital frying pan.

Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.

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