De-identified information is excluded from the HIPAA Privacy Rule’s definition of protected health information, permitting its use without patient authorization. However, information de-identified according to HIPAA provisions can be re-identified putting patient privacy at risk.

So argues Latanya Sweeney, professor of government and technology in residence and director of the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard University. Sweeney was famously able to show how the medical record of William Weld—then-governor of Massachusetts—could be re-identified using only his date of birth, gender and postal code. In addition, she also showed in a separate study that 87 percent of all Americans are uniquely identified based on only date of birth, sex, and ZIP code.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Health Data Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access