Enabling health information sharing with synthetic data
A modern privacy enhancing technology that provides highly usable non-identifiable data. By Khaled El Emam of Replica Analytics.
The demand for health data has grown significantly over the last 18 months in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The widespread increase of data access, when it has happened, enabled rapid analysis and the development of evidence-based policies for managing the clinical and economic risks of this virus. However, despite this acute need for data, there are still many obstacles.
One challenge is the ability to expeditiously produce non-identifiable data which meets regulatory expectations, and that can be shared with multiple government, academic, and commercial analysts nationally and globally. These expectations have been set high given the accumulating evidence of re-identification attacks. For example, in the Canadian context, a new report by the Expert Advisory Group on the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy echoed this idea and made the need for better access to data clear. It even noted that a “privacy chill” arising from risk-averse interpretations of health data sharing rules is hurting patient care and hampering responses to health crises.(1)
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