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International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications
Volume 2008, Article ID 678302, 5 pages
Research Article

Building Application-Related Patient Identifiers: What Solution for a European Country?

1Service de Biostatistique et Informatique Médicale, CHU de Dijon, INSERM EMI 0106, 21079 Dijon Cedex, France
2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Mc Gill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1Y6
3Laboratoire d'Epidémiologie, Statistique et Informatique Médicales (LESIM), Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, 146 rue Léo-Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux Cedex, France
4Laboratoire d'Enseignement et de Recherche sur le Traitement de l'Information Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée Marseille, 13284 Marseille Cedex 07, France
5Institut National d'Etudes Démographiques (INED), 133 Boulevard Davout 75980 Paris Cedex 20, France
6OPPIDA Sud, Batiment F 78 allée Jean Jaurès, 31000 Toulouse, France
7HC Forum, Les Jardins de Maupertuis, 7 Chemin de la Dhuy, 38240 Meylan, France

Received 28 September 2007; Accepted 14 February 2008

Academic Editor: Christine Verdier

Copyright © 2008 Catherine Quantin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We propose a method utilizing a derived social security number with the same reliability as the social security number. We show the anonymity techniques classically based on unidirectional hash functions (such as the secure hash algorithm (SHA-2) function that can guarantee the security, quality, and reliability of information if these techniques are applied to the Social Security Number). Hashing produces a strictly anonymous code that is always the same for a given individual, and thus enables patient data to be linked. Different solutions are developed and proposed in this article. Hashing the social security number will make it possible to link the information in the personal medical file to other national health information sources with the aim of completing or validating the personal medical record or conducting epidemiological and clinical research. This data linkage would meet the anonymous data requirements of the European directive on data protection.