An Overview of Techniques for De-Identifying Personal Health Information

Posted: 17 Aug 2009  

Khaled El Emam

University of Ottawa

Anita Fineberg

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: August 14, 2009

Abstract

There is increasing demand for the use and disclosure of personal health information (PHI) for secondary purposes. In the context of health information, 'secondary purposes' is defined as any retrospective processing of existing data that is not part of providing care to the patient. For example, data used or disclosed for analysis, research, safety and quality measurement and improvement, public health, payment, provider certification and accreditation, and marketing are considered secondary purposes under this definition [1].

This report describes, at a high level, the techniques that can be used to de-identify PHI. In particular, our objective is to make clear when specific de-identification techniques are applicable and how to decide when to use each.

Keywords: de-identification, anonymization, privacy

Suggested Citation

El Emam, Khaled and Fineberg, Anita, An Overview of Techniques for De-Identifying Personal Health Information (August 14, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1456490 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1456490

Khaled El Emam (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa ( email )

401 Smyth Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8L1
Canada

Anita Fineberg

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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