Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2016 Nov;23(6):1040-1045. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocw001. Epub 2016 Mar 24.

Preserving temporal relations in clinical data while maintaining privacy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA hripcsak@columbia.edu.
  • 2Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, NY 10461, USA.
  • 3Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA.
  • 4Department of Biomedical Informatics, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203, USA.
  • 5Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Maintaining patient privacy is a challenge in large-scale observational research. To assist in reducing the risk of identifying study subjects through publicly available data, we introduce a method for obscuring date information for clinical events and patient characteristics.

METHODS:

The method, which we call Shift and Truncate (SANT), obscures date information to any desired granularity. Shift and Truncate first assigns each patient a random shift value, such that all dates in that patient's record are shifted by that amount. Data are then truncated from the beginning and end of the data set.

RESULTS:

The data set can be proven to not disclose temporal information finer than the chosen granularity. Unlike previous strategies such as a simple shift, it remains robust to frequent - even daily - updates and robust to inferring dates at the beginning and end of date-shifted data sets. Time-of-day may be retained or obscured, depending on the goal and anticipated knowledge of the data recipient.

CONCLUSIONS:

The method can be useful as a scientific approach for reducing re-identification risk under the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and may contribute to qualification for the Safe Harbor implementation.

PMID:
27013522
PMCID:
PMC5070517
[Available on 2017-11-01]
DOI:
10.1093/jamia/ocw001
[PubMed - in process]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
    Loading ...
    Support Center