Survey of State Health Databases
Survey of Publicly Available State Health Databases
We surveyed every state and the District of Columbia to see what patient specific information states release on hospital visits and how much potentially identifiable information is released in those records. Thirty-three states release hospital discharge data in some form, with varying levels of demographic information and hospital stay details such as hospital name, admission and discharge dates, diagnoses, doctors who attended to the patient, payer, and cost of the stay. We compared the level of demographic and other data to federal standards set by the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA), which states do not have to adhere to for this type of data. We found that states varied widely in whether their data was HIPAA equivalent; while 13 were equivalent (or stricter) with demographic fields only 3 of the 33 states that released data did so in a form that was HIPAA equivalent across all fields.
Hooley S and Sweeney L. Survey of Publicly Available State Health Databases. Harvard University. Data Privacy Lab. White Paper 1075-1. June 2013. (PDF, lowres)
Related Projects in the Data Privacy LabRe-identification of Washington State Health Data