Tokenization for De-Identification

26 Dec
2013

One of the biggest challenges for businesses and organizations dealing with medical records is complying with HIPAA regulations. Due to the “minimum necessary” rule, healthcare records and their storage can become a minefield of regulatory compliance. How do you run an efficient business when so much of your time is spent coping with record keeping?

Tokenization could provide a solution to your needs. By using tokenization as a solution to de-identify healthcare records, you preserve the original data in a secure, out-of-scope location while also keeping the data you need accessible for your regular business.

How does tokenization work for de-identification? As you may know, tokenization relies on the principle of data replacement. When using tokenization, a piece of sensitive data, such as a healthcare record, is replaced in your systems with a token – a simple placeholder value with no significance of its own. Note that a token is not encrypted data. It’s a randomized value that is tied by association to the sensitive data.

In most cases, tokens are used to obscure payment card information or entire records. However, it is possible to use tokenization to obscure specific values within a record, such as the identifying information in a healthcare document (name, address, SSN, job number, and so on). When using tokenization, these sensitive, HIPAA-regulated values are replaced with strings of random characters. Thus, the “minimum necessary” information is provided to you as a de-identified record, and the remainder of the values are secured in a high-level token vault.

The biggest benefit to this system is that it removes the sensitive data from your environment entirely, lowering your compliance scope and obligations. If and when you do need to access the protected information, all you need to do is pass the tokens back, and the data will be sent to you via encrypted communication.

Using tokenization, achieving HIPAA compliance can be a much simpler proposition for many businesses. This simple solution allows you to boost your security, make your workflow more efficient, and reduce your own compliance obligations at the same time. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our services page to get the full rundown on tokenization.

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