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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014 Jan-Feb;21(1):185-9. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2013-001769. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Development of a HIPAA-compliant environment for translational research data and analytics.

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Center for High Performance Computing, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


High-performance computing centers (HPC) traditionally have far less restrictive privacy management policies than those encountered in healthcare. We show how an HPC can be re-engineered to accommodate clinical data while retaining its utility in computationally intensive tasks such as data mining, machine learning, and statistics. We also discuss deploying protected virtual machines. A critical planning step was to engage the university's information security operations and the information security and privacy office. Access to the environment requires a double authentication mechanism. The first level of authentication requires access to the university's virtual private network and the second requires that the users be listed in the HPC network information service directory. The physical hardware resides in a data center with controlled room access. All employees of the HPC and its users take the university's local Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act training series. In the first 3 years, researcher count has increased from 6 to 58.


Clinical Research Informatics; HIPAA; High-performance Computing; Translational Medical Research

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