PAX: Using Pseudonymization and Anonymization to Protect Patients' Identities and Data in the Healthcare System

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Apr 27;16(9):1490. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16091490.


Electronic health record (EHR) systems are extremely useful for managing patients' data and are widely disseminated in the health sector. The main problem with these systems is how to maintain the privacy of sensitive patient information. Due to not fully protecting the records from unauthorised users, EHR systems fail to provide privacy for protected health information. Weak security measures also allow authorised users to exceed their specific privileges to access medical records. Thus, some of the systems are not a trustworthy source and are undesirable for patients and healthcare providers. Therefore, an authorisation system that provides privacy when accessing patients' data is required to address these security issues. Specifically, security and privacy precautions should be raised for specific categories of users, doctor advisors, physician researchers, emergency doctors, and patients' relatives. Presently, these users can break into the electronic systems and even violate patients' privacy because of the privileges granted to them or the inadequate security and privacy mechanisms of these systems. To address the security and privacy problems associated with specific users, we develop the Pseudonymization and Anonymization with the XACML (PAX) modular system, which depends on client and server applications. It provides a security solution to the privacy issues and the problem of safe-access decisions for patients' data in the EHR. The~results of theoretical and experimental security analysis prove that PAX provides security features in preserving the privacy of healthcare users and is safe against known attacks.

Keywords: ECDSA; PAX; XACML; anonymity; electronic health record (EHR); pseudonym.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Security
  • Confidentiality*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Humans
  • Patient Identification Systems*
  • Physicians