Situation-Based Access Control: Privacy Management via Modeling of Patient Data Access Scenarios

J Biomed Inform. 2008 Dec;41(6):1028-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2008.03.014. Epub 2008 Apr 10.


Access control is a central problem in privacy management. A common practice in controlling access to sensitive data, such as electronic health records (EHRs), is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). RBAC is limited as it does not account for the circumstances under which access to sensitive data is requested. Following a qualitative study that elicited access scenarios, we used Object-Process Methodology to structure the scenarios and conceive a Situation-Based Access Control (SitBAC) model. SitBAC is a conceptual model, which defines scenarios where patient's data access is permitted or denied. The main concept underlying this model is the Situation Schema, which is a pattern consisting of the entities Data-Requestor, Patient, EHR, Access Task, Legal-Authorization, and Response, along with their properties and relations. The various data access scenarios are expressed via Situation Instances. While we focus on the medical domain, the model is generic and can be adapted to other domains.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Privacy*