Synthetic Data Expected to Reduce Health Data Privacy Concerns

A collaboration by Alberta organizations is projected to improve data privacy security for health facilities, says a press release on Globe Newswire. The project is composed of Health City, Institute of Health Economics (IHE), Alberta Innovates, and the University of Alberta, along with Merck Canada.

The use of synthetic data is seen as a possible solution to cyberattacks that many health organizations suffer over the past months.

This technology seeks to create a simulation of datasets from patients, which means that the data will be generated from real data derived from real patients. However, the release noted that the simulated data will not be tied to individuals who provided the patient-derived data.

Synthetic Data to Reduce Health Data Privacy Concerns

Synthetic data can be distributed among researchers to help organizations collaborate with their studies and make innovation a more accessible process. Plus, it helps innovators share data without violating the Alberta Health Information Act.

Alberta Innovates vice president for health Tim Murphy said, “We believe the ability to quickly generate high-quality synthetic data will be a game changer for clinical trials and will provide for multiple uses in artificial intelligence and machine learning.” He added, “It also has the potential to grow our economy and knowledge industries.”

The project was launched last year with the first phase taking place in October 2020. Phase I is deemed successful, making it the first synthetic health-related dataset in Alberta.

Merck Canada joining the collaboration provides an opportunity for the researchers to further push their research. Taproot Edmonton noted that this is the first time a multinational corporation has funneled funds to an Alberta synthetic data project.

Patient Access executive director Heidi Waser at Merck Canada said, “We are very pleased to support Alberta’s innovators and be part of this exciting collaboration to accelerate research in the field of synthetic data use.”

“It is by working together through innovative collaborations such as the one that we will help facilitate access to health information critical to scientific advancement, ultimately helping improve Canadian health outcomes,” Waser added.

Health City CEO Reg Joseph is optimistic about the addition of Merck Canada to the group. “This is an exciting development for health innovation,” he said, “Merck Canada’s involvement in the project is a glimpse at what synthetic data could mean for Alberta’s innovation sector.”

Merck Canada and the other Alberta organizations will continue collaborating to provide important scientific development for the Canadian health communities.