4 May 2022

Patient data sold to ice-cream companies

Humoural Theory

Spörken-Vasz explains that harvesting diabetics’ information from the PHN data lake is all for their benefit.


Ice-cream companies have bought patient data from PHNs and are using it to target advertising at the most vulnerable, The Medical Republic has learnt.

TMR spoke to a representative from Spörken-Vasz.

TMR: Patients are understandably upset that their confidential medical information has been sold on to third parties. What would you like to say to patients who are anxious about what’s happened?

SV: I understand their concerns. But given the huge amount of data that’s being extracted from GP databases all over the country it was inevitable that some of it would either leak out or be sold on to private companies. What I would say is this: Spörken-Vasz is a brand that patients can trust, we’ve been making ice-cream like no other since 1961.

TMR: … Ok … What kind of data were you able to get hold of?

SV: We had access to all kinds of information including patient demographics, treatment history, referrals, medications, mental health history, prescriptions, you name it. I didn’t want to bore you with the details today so instead I brought along a sample of salted caramel ice-cream for you to try! Once you start exploring the caramel ribbons and crunchy biscuit you won’t be able to resist. Would you like some?

TMR: Errr ….

SV: … Nom nom nom …

TMR: Maybe later. What patients and GPs want to know is what exactly did you do with all of this information?

SV: Well, we started off by searching for the type of patient who can’t stop gobbling up delicious mouthfuls of heavenly ice-cream and so we trawled through the data using key terms like obesity, type 2 diabetes, MI, depression, fatty liver and ankle oedema. We then targeted those patients with ads, promotional material and special offers. And by refining our searches we were able to match one of  Spörken-Vasz’s forty-seven extraordinary flavours of ice-cream with the right patient.

TMR: But all that data is supposed to be deidentified. How did you­–

SV: Hahahaha … deidenti– … hahahaa … don’t, I nearly choked on a smartie.

TMR: At any point during this did you think that what you were doing was a little bit unethical or perhaps even immoral?

SV: No not really, ice-cream isn’t immoral, it’s delicious. Talking of morality if Jesus were around today he’d be a great big dollop of cookies and cream with chocolate button eyes.

TMR: …

SV: Nom nom nom.

TMR: Can you please stop saying that.

SV: I think it might be time for you to try a little bit of Spörken-Vasz! What do you think? Are you ready for some world-famous silky-smooth ice-cream? I bet you are! Open wide! 

TMR: Keep that f***ing spoon away from me!

SV: …

TMR: …

SV: Nom, nom, nom.