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Silver Threads: Digital health care

Bettye Anding

Bettye Anding

The other day I was playing around on my computer -- checking email, looking at new books on Amazon, taking a turn at freecell -- when a pop-up told me I needed to update my “drivers.”

I thought I did this all the time when Windows tells me something new is coming and suggests clicking on an update and preparing to restart. But this message offered a scan of the system, so I clicked on “download” and soon got the information that in 19 areas my PC is operating with “ancient” drivers that need boosting with technology apparently developed since I first signed on in early 2008. And not doing too well in other places either.

It seems these problems can be fixed easily if I click again, on the place where I can give them my credit card number, and we’re all set: Everything can be taken care of for $30. I probably would have done it, if I hadn’t just spent $300 online, ordering replacements for the broken pieces of our everyday dinnerware. I’m not especially frugal -- as my husband will tell you -- but enough is enough for one day.

All this got me to thinking that what with the advances modern medicine has made in the past couple of decades, perhaps it could provide us with scans of our bodies’ operating systems on our computers. We could put a finger into a special aperture at the side of our keyboards and learn in a flash which of our “drivers” need updating.

Of course, more than 19 of mine would be “ancient,” but at least I’d know which of them was slowing down the old “computer,” and needed to be fixed quickly if possible.

There would be a charge for this kind of scan, but the process would be cheaper and much more convenient than going to the doctor, fasting for blood work, supplying a stool sample, or being rolled into an MRI. And the fee would make it improbable that the hypochondriacs among us would be sticking their fingers into their computers every time they signed on to the internet.

The downside of this marvelous medical technology would be that it wouldn’t be private. Your systemic details might even appear on Facebook: “Hey Jill, I’m so sorry that your mom has gall stones!”

The ads would pop up for dubious if not quack cures for what ailed you, far-flung relatives might make contact hoping for a slice of an inheritance, lawyers like Morris Bart and his clones could stuff your inbox with proposals for drawing up a will. Don’t even think about the  messages the undertakers might send.

Our government, recently in the health care business in a new way, might even get involved. It could take over the new website, fullbody.scans.in.a.sec.com, and make the mess of it that I’ve read that Health.Care.gov is.

I read today that this latest venture of the folks in Washington is drawing many more elderly takers than young ones. Why is anyone surprised? All of our “drivers” are “ancient.”

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at [email protected]