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News

Privacy software to unlock health data goldmine

CSIRO : 08 October, 2006  (Technical Article)
CSIRO has developed unique privacy software to allow health data collections to be used to improve the health of Australian people.
To protect privacy, the results may be modified before being revealed to the researcher, but what is revealed is accurate and reliable.'Until now, use of Australia's many health data collections has been limited due to privacy concerns,' says CSIRO mathematician Dr Christine O'Keefe.

'Our Privacy-Preserving Analytics software can solve this by analysing data collections in a way that protects the privacy of both individuals and health care providers.

'There are countless benefits to making better use of our health data collections, including discovering causes and treatments of diseases, monitoring safety and quality in provision of healthcare, and improving efficiency of the healthcare system.'

PPA produces more accurate and reliable results than other data analysis methods because the analyses are run on raw data in a secure environment and researchers only receive the results.

The traditional approach to protecting privacy has been to modify data before releasing it for research. Data modifications are kept secret from researchers running analyses, making the results less reliable than they could be.

CSIRO's approach is to run secure analyses on unmodified data, so that the results are exact and reliable. To protect privacy, the results may be modified before being revealed to the researcher, but what is revealed is accurate and reliable.

CSIRO's Privacy-Preserving Analytics algorithms have been incorporated into prototype software which is attracting interest among health data custodians, researchers and administrators within Australia and overseas.
PPA also has potential research applications in other areas where privacy issues are paramount, such as banking and finance.
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