Researchers want to make data available to secondary analysis

Two University of Texas at Arlington researchers are leading a collaborative National Science Foundation project to protect personal, electronic healthcare data while ensuring that the anonymous records can be used for secondary analysis and improved health care.

Associate Professor Heng Huang (PI) and Professor Guatam Das (Co-PI), both of the UT Arlington Computer Science & Engineering Department, have teamed to develop the new computational model that will de-identify information in electronic health records. Huang is the principal investigator for the $740,000 project, which includes researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and George Washington University in Washington D.C.

"It's a fine line we're walking," Huang said. "We're trying to preserve and protect sensitive data, but at the same time we're trying to allow pertinent information to be read."

Huang said his team will build a privacy-preserving framework that will start where the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ends. The project will produce groundbreaking algorithms and tools for identifying privacy leaks and protecting personal medical information in electronic health records.

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, said the work by Huang and Das is increasingly important in this data-driven world.

"As we expand the use of electronic health records, we must ensure that individual privacy concerns are protected," Behbehani said. "Drs. Huang and Das will work to ensure that the data being amassed in electronic health records can be securely mined to help shape improved health care of benefit to all."

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