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Health Systems Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
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Seed Grant Profile


2009-2010 Program

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Dynamic-attribute-based Disclosure of Health Information in Emergency Care Scenarios

Providing vital health information, such as pre-existing conditions and known allergies, about patients being treated by emergency personnel could prevent adverse outcomes and save lives. While devices exist that maintain this information and can be carried by patients or even implanted in them, the adoption rate of such devices is low and is expected to remain so. Meanwhile, the adoption of electronic health records is accelerating and within ?ve years, it is expected that a substantial majority of health records will be electronic. It is, therefore, natural to envision a health information exchange, wherein emergency personnel, such as EMTs and ER doctors, can electronically access the vital information of patients they are treating. However, such a system could also provide opportunities for abuse, which risk compromise of the health information of numerous individuals. This proposal envisions a secure health information repository, which releases only the minimum information required about the right patient to the right health personnel at the right time and in the right location. The system we envision is attribute-based and makes use of a wide range of both quasi-static attributes, such as job type and employer, and dynamic attributes, such as time, incident location, and location of emergency personnel. In this project, we will address three problems that must be solved for this vision to be achieved: how to provide trust in dynamic environmental attributes, how to design a secure community health records repository that releases information only under the correct circumstances as defined by a range of static and dynamic attributes, and how to allow average users to interact with their community health record in a simple way so that patients can maintain some control over how their health information is disseminated. This research will be carried out by students in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and College of Computing, in cooperation with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). The research project also complements work being done at GTRI on emergency response and we are in discussions with GTRI about future joint efforts in this area.

Investigators: Doug Blough (GT, Electrical and Computer Engineering), Mustaque Ahamad (Georgia Tech Information Security Center, College of Computing), Patrick Traynor (GT, School of Computer Science, College of Computing), James Jose (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta)

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