Trust, Peeping and Re-identification

Date:  February 22, 2012

Large repositories of personal health information are being constructed to improve the delivery of health care. These databases are often accessible by a large number of providers. For example, often many providers at a hospital would be able to access any patient’s medical record. And there are provincial pharmacy and laboratory repositories where any pharmacist or provider in the whole province can access any patient’s information. This has resulted in a number of examples of ‘peeping’ or ‘snooping’. This is when a provider looks at the personal health information of a patient with whom they do not have a legitimate care relationship. Most such cases involve looking up the information of famous people, and love triangle situations. Although there are some other interesting motivations.This presentation provides an overview of known peeping cases, how and where they occured, and gives some suggestions on how to catch and avoid them when data is used for primary and secondary purposes.

Speaker: Khaled El Emam, CHEO Research Institute

Biography: Dr. Khaled El Emam is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine, a senior investigator at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, and a Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information at the University of Ottawa. His main area of research is developing techniques for health data anonymization and secure disease surveillance for public health purposes. Previously Khaled was a Senior Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada, and prior to that he was head of the Quantitative Methods Group at the Fraunhofer Institute in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He has co-founded two companies to commercialize the results of his research work. In 2003 and 2004, he was ranked as the top systems and software engineering scholar worldwide by the Journal of Systems and Software based on his research on measurement and quality evaluation and improvement, and ranked second in 2002 and 2005. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical and Electronics, King’s College, at the University of London (UK).

Download the slides here.