Data linkage is the process where data is linked across datasets using common identifiers such as name, address and birth date. This linkage enables multiple data sources to be brought together, allowing for meaningful research and evaluation across a broader range of data.
The linked data in the Illawarra Health Information Platform (IHIP) is de-identified before any research is undertaken. This protects the individual’s privacy and maintains the integrity of the IHIP project. In fact, identifiers are only used during the actual linkage of the data.
Encrypted (hashed) Unit record identifiers are assigned to project datasets. This prevents any sort of ‘backwards mapping’ of identifiers contained within the data.
The following diagram contains a high-level overview of how data linkage works in IHIP, showing flows of data from source systems through to non-identifiable research datasets delivered to researchers.