Managing security and privacy concerns over data storage in healthcare research

Isla S. Mackenzie, Brian J. Mantay, Patrick G. McDonnell, Li Wei, Thomas M. MacDonald

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose Issues surrounding data security and privacy are of great importance when handling sensitive health-related data for research. The emphasis in the past has been on balancing the risks to individuals with the benefit to society of the use of databases for research. However, a new way of looking at such issues is that by optimising procedures and policies regarding security and privacy of data to the extent that there is no appreciable risk to the privacy of individuals, we can create a 'win-win' situation in which everyone benefits, and pharmacoepidemiological research can flourish with public support. We discuss holistic measures, involving both information technology and people, taken to improve the security and privacy of data storage.

    Methods After an internal review, we commissioned an external audit by an independent consultant with a view to optimising our data storage and handling procedures.

    Results Improvements to our policies and procedures were implemented as a result of the audit.

    Conclusions By optimising our storage of data, we hope to inspire public confidence and hence cooperation with the use of health care data in research. Copyright (C) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)885-893
    Number of pages9
    JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


    • data storage
    • security
    • privacy
    • audit


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