Brickbat: Behind the Times


Zhudifeng / Dreamstime

The United Kingdom's National Health Service uses 10 percent of all the world's remaining pagers. It uses 130,000 of the devices at an annual cost of 6.6 million pounds ($8.9 million).

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  1. Huh. I didn’t know they were still available. Haven’t seen one in at least a couple of decades.

    1. My buddy from Reading, PA had his shut off by the phone company about fifteen years ago. A bitter clinger, he was.

    2. Dennis: Hi. Dennis Duffy, Beeper King.
      Jack: The Beeper King, really?
      Liz: Dennis has his own business. Yes, he’s an entrepreneur. He’s very successful.
      Dennis: You’ve probably seen my ads on the seven train, right?

  2. “The weight is a sign of reliability. I always go for reliability. Heavy is good, heavy is reliable… If it does not work, you can always hit the patient with it.”

  3. I know what you are thinking….

    This is a wonderful symbol of the technological advancement of a nationalized healthcare system. People will see the woefully backward use of pagers in the age of the smartphone and understand that the same thing will be true for the medical care they receive under a government run single-payer healthcare system.

    Well, it is a wonderful metaphor and perfect example. But nobody who supports nationalizing healthcare is going to be swayed by that. The combination of “free stuff” and the mythical beauty of the socialist healthcare system, wonderfully devoid of evil, profit-seeking corporations overwhelms all reason. If they can’t see the reality of Canadians trekking to the US for procedures like MRI or bypass surgery because of the wait times in their “free” healthcare system, they aren’t going to be able to see any flaws in their idol.

    1. Come to Taiwan and you can get the surgery for cheaper than your co-pay in the US, if you pay cash. They can usually get you in the operating room within a few days. It’s probably cheaper even if you include the air fare.

      1. Disclaimer(?). Just had a hip replacement and a hernia operation last summer.

  4. They used them on ER in the 90’s into the 00’s, but did they use pagers on House, M.D.? I think they did. If it’s good enough for Dr. House.

      1. Don’t you get it? Drug addicted detective? House? Holmes? Do I have to spell everything out for you?

  5. Oddly enough, my bro-in-law uses an employer-issued pager when he’s on week-end call. He works maintenance at the hospital.

  6. Programming rule number 42: if it’s stupid, but it works; it ain’t stupid.

    I suspect that the pagers are not used for personal things like a smart phone would be.
    I remember that pagers worked in situations where cell phones did not.
    No one has ever accused centralized planning of being leading edge anything.
    Why would they want to put both of the pager repair companies out of work?
    It’s Great Britain, who cares?

  7. Pagers are more reliable and have better coverage than cell phones. I don’t see a problem with this.

  8. “Pagers are coming back, baby. Technology is cyclical.”

  9. I just got a beep from Kim, and she can fuck allll night.

    1. I just got a beep from Kim and he is pissed about American bombers in the area of North Korea.

  10. If they did not have pagers then how would doctors know they needed to perform a bloodletting to regulate the patients humours?

    1. And would you want the NHS to know your home or cell phone numbers?

  11. Single payer here in the USA would take some of those pagers off their hands.

    Getting worse health care and worse phone service is all the rage, right?

  12. Pagers are kind of a big thing in healthcare. Quite a few doctors used them as a preferred device. I think the reasoning in healthcare is this: Doctor ‘on call’. Doctor wants to lead a normal life when ‘on call’. All they need to know is that they are being called. That way they can choose method to return to call. They don’t want to listen to voicemail messages etc.

    I think that the idea of giving out a phone number to receive a call is like kryptonite for most doctors, and I sympathize with that. If people have a direct number to call, they’ll use it. The pager creates a barrier between the caller and the doctor.

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