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THeCS (Trusted Healthcare Services)

Privacy transparency tools give more trust in eHealth


The Trusted Healthcare Services project investigates and develops novel breakthrough security and privacy mechanisms, which enhances trust in ICT technologies. Although the application of the developed technology is very wide, the project focuses on e-Health (electronic health services over the internet) where considerable concerns about privacy and security of all that data that we share or submit are present. The lack of trust was the reason for the Dutch Senate not to pass the bill for the proposed nationwide Electronic Patient Records system even though many millions were spent building the system. But it is not only with nationwide systems; in every communication regarding our health we want our data to be secured.

In particular, the project focuses on three important scientific ICT challenges. Firstly, we investigate how to measure, indicate and enhance trust in services driven by ICT technologies as well as reliability of data. This research question is driven by demand in the eHealth domain, where the lack of trust in ICT technologies creates a barrier for patients but also for healthcare providers to use ICT technologies and novel services. Next to that in many e-Health systems medical data is not collected by healthcare providers in a controlled medical environment using certified medical devices, but by patients at their homes without any supervision. Therefore, the healthcare professionals will need to place greater trust in information that patients report.

Secondly, the project investigates and develops technologies to automatically detect and prevent leakage of sensitive information. Security and privacy breaches, which occur more and more often, result in significant monetary loss for companies and organizations. Next to that the new data protection regulations in EU requires breach notification. Therefore detection of potential data leakages is of utmost importance. 

The third ICT challenge, which the project addresses, is related to operations in encrypted domain. There, the project develops new breakthrough technology that enables privacy-preserving data mining and social networking focusing on their efficiency and applicability to real-life scenarios. This research direction is motivated by the need for privacy in healthcare domain that deals with a lot of sensitive data. Patients are concerned that their sensitive data (e.g. DNA or data related to mental illnesses, AIDS, etc.) is not disclosed, while on the other hand the public wants to allow medical researchers to use as much data as possible from Electronic Health Records to achieve the next level of evidence-based medicine.

Biggest results so far

Trusted healthcare services (video at the end of this page)

Although there is a great demand for ICT-supported health care services, both pa­tients and professionals are only reluc­tantly stepping in. A main obstacle is trust.

We develop a web-portal that enables the delivery of healthcare services while incorporat­ing and evaluating new trust technologies. Ex­amples of these trust technologies are: data re­liability evaluation to support decision-making, transparency tools to show how data is han­dled, and data leakage and secure multiparty computation for keeping patient data confidential. More.

ICT science question: which technologies can contribute to greater trust in the use of ICT-supported healthcare services? Can we demonstrate these technologies in a realistic setting? Can we develop a reliable trust measure for ICT-supported healthcare services?

Involved COMMIT/partners: Roessingh, Roessingh R&D, Vitalhealth, JC Groep.

Evaluating the reliability of eHealth-data

ICT-based home healthcare services are revolutionizing healthcare. The patient performs his own medical measurements and sends the results via the internet to the healthcare professional. The doctor has to trust and rely on the measurements to provide the correct medical advice. Unfortunately, people sometimes use a measurement device incorrectly, so that the reliability of the data becomes questionable. More.

ICT science question: how to evaluate the overall quality of measurements? The evaluation should involve different qual­ity aspects of a measurement, such as information stability, device application and data timeliness.

Involved COMMIT/partners: Roessingh, Roessingh R&D, TU/e.

Privacy transparency tools give more trust in eHealth (video at the end of this page)

A growing number of users demand from service providers to offer transparency on how their data are handled. Data trans­parency is also more and more demanded by the law. We have developed a toolkit with various pri­vacy transparency tools that can be used in e-Health services, such as a hospital website. From our toolkit, service providers can choose specific tools that fit their user requirements and their service type the best. More.

ICT science question: how can we best design tools that give users of information services insight in how their data are being handled? The tools should provide the right type and amount of information and in the right form, so not to overwhelm an average user.

The technical challenge is to provide complete information on what service providers actually do with data and why, not only what they claim to do (such as e.g. Google dashboard).

Involved COMMIT/partners: Roessingh, VitalHealth, TNO.