Media releases

VU project to secure patient privacy will lead to improved medical research

Patient privacy will be at the forefront of a new electronic data system being developed at Victoria University that will eliminate internal privacy breaches in medical research.

Victoria University researchers are working on new privacy algorithms to significantly improve access to health data in medical research.

Professor Yanchun Zhang, Director of VU’s Centre for Applied Informatics, has received a $295,000 grant from the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme for the project.

Protecting patient privacy has been an ethical stumbling block for medical researchers striving for advances in their various fields, Professor Zhang said.

This new system will allow medical researchers to confidentially access and share electronic data without fear of privacy breaches.

“There have been many cases which show current systems are vulnerable to internal attack with staff accessing patient records they are not authorised to access,” Professor Zhang said.

“This project will develop electronic data systems to overcome current problems to support data sharing among medical researchers without breaching patient privacy.”

He pointed to Medicare where recent unauthorised access from internal staff compromised patient privacy.

The three-year project worked with industry partner Nexus Online Pty Ltd who contributed $150,000 towards the project.

“Creating new privacy preserving algorithms in database federations will provide efficient data access yet block unauthorised access,” he said.

“The medical knowledge that can be mined once these barriers are removed will significantly improve the quality of healthcare in Australia.

The Linkage Projects Grants Scheme funds collaborative research and development projects between higher education researchers and partner organisations.

Professor Zhang said the ARC Linkage Projects grant built on the University’s ongoing success in collaborative research partnerships.

“Victoria University is known for the strength of its industry relationships and here is another example of our researchers excelling at developing new technologies for industry applications.”

The Centre for Applied Informatics (CAI) is a leading research group in computing and information technology and IT applications.

See all media releases