Thursday, December 11, 2008

What are you willing to reveal in a text message?

This is something I don't have to worry about. Being a cheap bitch has its advantages. DH and I have a family plan for our cell phones, but we had them block text messaging because adding texting to our plan was more money than either of us wanted to spend. Before we had texting blocked, we were getting spam texts, and every one of those fuckers cost us 15 cents (now I know 15 cents is not a lot of money, but get 10 of them in a month and that's $1.50, get 100 of them and that's $15.00, not an amount of money I want to spend on spam). It's bad enough that we get all this spam in our email, I'm not going to deal with it on my cell phone too.
So -
Receiving a text message asking for your credit card information may be a no brainer for some who wouldn’t think of replying, but what if you receive a text message asking about your lifestyle habits, if you smoke, drink or what you weigh? Would it be as clear how revealing that information might be used in ways that might negatively affect you?

IF I had text messaging, and got one of those, my response would be either MYOB or no response at all (or maybe a nunyabizness).
The health information technology industry has been creating ways to use text messaging to reach patients with health promotions, appointment reminders, and to monitor their compliance with health prescriptions. The mobile healthcare business is a growing field and increasingly also being used to monitor lifestyles and adherence to performance measures. Contracting with government and insurance companies, they’re providing patient messaging services to manage care (“patient care messaging”) and encourage patients to follow healthy lifestyles.

You want to text me with that kind of shit? Then you're going to pay for the texting on my cell phone plan and even then, I may or may not reply to your texting (yeah, I'm contrary like that).
A company in the UK has developed a clever scheme to use text messaging for health phishing — to learn if people smoke, drink and their weight. It simply sends people a text message and asks! The answers are automatically recorded in their medical records and government database to be used to determine healthcare coverage or deny benefits, set premiums, and identify people for disease management intervention.

The company, iPlato, is marketing wireless technology to help providers and third-party payers communicate health messages to patients and monitor their healthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, diet, exercise, immunizations, screenings and other initiatives.

Um, yeah, I don't think so. If my doctor wants to know any of that information, I'll tell her when I see her. The government can piss off, they don't need to know any of that, it's another of those nunyabizness things. And WTF is this disease management intervention? If the government thinks you aren't healthy enough to suit them, are they going to force you into whatever treatment they think you need? Our judgment on whether we're healthy or not isn't going to matter? Fuck That!!!!!! It's no one's business if I smoke, or drink, or how much I weigh. It's also none of their business if I exercised today or ate all my veggies. And if I had to pay for those pills the doctor prescribed(even if it's just a co-pay), damned skippy I'm going to be taking them, I'm not into wasting money just because I don't like taking pills (and if I'm sick enough that it requires some kind of medication, I'm going to take all of that medication so I'm not sick anymore, I'm not a masochist, I don't like being sick).
Granted this is only happening in the UK right now, but how long is it going to be before insurance companies in the US think this is a good idea and want to implement it? Makes me damned glad I don't have texting on my phone, mainly because I figure if anyone wants to talk to me, they can call me. If I wanted to type to someone, I'd talk to them on the computer with a full-size keyboard, not on a cell phone with tiny buttons. My cell phone is for making and receiving calls, it's not for taking pictures or typing messages (that's why I have a digital camera and a computer). Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a fossil (I'm so old, God owes me money, according to a friend of mine), but the more I see of technology, the more I think it's getting too damned invasive in our lives, and the potential for misuse/abuse is staggering. I'm going to fight that every step of the way.


  1. I totally have to agree with you there, I would probably have to hunt down and get a bit stabby if I started getting "patient care messages" texted to me on my phone. You can bet they are getting some of the profits for it. Honestly they treat me like a second class person when I go into the doctors office.. why would I want reminders of that. We get enough harassing about our "health" daily... why invite more.

    I also agree with you on the whole technology thing, it is at the point that people get upset if they get voicemail and berate you with questions of "Why do you have a cell phone anyway you don't answer, or text back" well umm yeah .. I am not going to pay 15 cents to text you "ok" when you send me a message... most of the time I leave my cell in the car I have it because it makes me feel secure should I have an emergency while I am out. I Do NOT want to sit and have a personal phone conversation while I am walking through a store or at an appointment.. that is just rude in my opinion, to those around me, to the person I am talking to and not devoting my attention to, and to me because I have to try to focus on multiple things and will probably miss parts of the conversation anyway lol.

    I think people for get the days when the only phone you had was attached to a wall .. in your home... and if you wanted to write a letter it took at least a week to get a response. Patience people

  2. I always just delete texts that come from anyone other than people I know. I don't know anyone who would randomly answer text messages from mysterious sources. But maybe I just know too many computer security and privacy nerds. :p


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