Effectiveness of Anonymization Methods in Preserving Patients' Privacy: A Systematic Literature Review
Background: An ever growing for application of electronic health records (EHRs) has improved healthcare providers' communications, access to data for secondary use and promoted the quality of services. Patient's privacy has been changed to a great issue today since there are large loads of critical information in EHRs. Therefore, many privacy preservation techniques have been proposed and anonymization is a common one.
Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of anonymization in preserving patients' privacy.
Methods: The articles published in the 2005–2016 were included. Pubmed, Cochrane, IEEE and ScienceDirect were searched with a variety of related keywords. Finally, 18 articles were included.
Results: In the present study, the relevant anonymization issues were investigated in four categories: secondary use of anonymized data, re-identification risk, anonymization effect on information extraction and inadequacy of current methods for different document types.
Conclusion: The results revealed that though anonymization cannot reduce the risk of re-identification to zero, if implemented correctly, can manage to help preserve patient's privacy.