Anonymized data is a gold mine for health research–but it’s not going to come easily. The Google researchers experimented with four different ways of de-identifying data, and in the end, even the most labor-intensive methods succeeded in anonymizing only 97% to 99% of the data. Other health technology news focuses on online predators, missing person identification, HHS’ interoperability rules, and video counseling.
Stat: Google’s Labors To Anonymize Patient Data Suggest Its Uphill Battle
Google has been exploring creative ways to protect sensitive health data, even as it has drawn criticism and federal scrutiny over the possibility its employees had access to identifiable patient information from one of the nation’s largest hospital systems. The tech giant’s researchers described their work in a recent paper, but also candidly laid out the magnitude of one of the biggest challenges facing health care: Even their best efforts to de-identify health data, or to render it anonymous, would leave some people exposed. (Brodwin, 2/25)
The Wall Street Journal: Predators Use The Internet To Hide—AI Is Trying To Unmask Them
When Rhiannon McDonald was 13, she was chatting online one night with someone she thought was a female modeling scout. In a matter of hours, from the computer in her bedroom, she was coerced into sending numerous photos of herself unclothed—and providing her home address. The next day, the person who had been writing to her showed up at her house. It was a man. He sexually assaulted her. (Jargon, 2/25)
Los Angeles Times: State Justice Department Announces New Technology To Identify Unknown Persons
The state’s top law enforcement agency has gained the ability to fully sequence mitochondrial DNA, an advancement that justice officials hope will better enable investigators to identify the bodies of missing persons. “Anything we can do to help families find closure is critical,” California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said in a statement Monday. “We’re proud of the work our scientists and technicians do every day at our Bureau of Forensic Services to help protect Californians, including our work with local law enforcement to help families locate their missing loved ones.” (Cosgrove, 2/24)
Modern Healthcare: HHS Focuses Its Interoperability Agenda On Researchers
The Trump administration’s focus on interoperability continues, but this time it’s homing in on researchers. Biomedical and health services researchers haven’t been able to capitalize on the growing amount of electronic health data spawned by electronic health records and consumer electronics. They cite data and health IT infrastructure problems as a major hurdle, HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said in its agenda for health IT research. (Brady, 2/24)
Boston Globe: A Novel Approach To Counseling Depressed, Anxious Teens: Video-Chatting With Therapists
Jerry is part of an experimental effort to address a pressing public health challenge confronting Massachusetts: how to deliver quality mental health care to all the teenagers who need it. The shortage of providers in rural areas is so severe that kids typically have to wait months to get an appointment, especially if their families are on Medicaid. Even when a therapist can be found, transportation is often an obstacle. (Lazar, 2/24)
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