HDDA: DataSifter: statistical obfuscation of electronic health records and other sensitive datasets
Journal of Statistical Computation and Simulation
11 Nov. 2018
There are no practical and effective mechanisms to share high-dimensional data including sensitive information in various fields like health financial intelligence or socioeconomics without compromising either the utility of the data or exposing private personal or secure organizational information. Excessive scrambling or encoding of the information makes it less useful for modelling or analytical processing. Insufficient preprocessing may compromise sensitive information and introduce a substantial risk for re-identification of individuals by various stratification techniques. To address this problem, we developed a novel statistical obfuscation method (DataSifter) for on-the-fly de-identification of structured and unstructured sensitive high-dimensional data such as clinical data from electronic health records (EHR). DataSifter provides complete administrative control over the balance between risk of data re-identification and preservation of the data information. Simulation results suggest that DataSifter can provide privacy protection while maintaining data utility for different types of outcomes of interest. The application of DataSifter on a large autism dataset provides a realistic demonstration of its promise practical applications.