Study ID's prescription privacy risks

Canadian researchers say they’ve determined information contained in hospital prescription records can be used to easily identify patients.

The study, led by Dr. Khaled El Emam of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, found information on drug prescriptions is a highly sought after commodity by pharmaceutical companies, which use the information in their marketing and sales efforts.

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The risk analysis performed in the study outlines a way to maintain patients’ privacy by generalizing and removing some variables, such as postal codes, gender and admission and discharge dates before they are shared with outside companies.

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