Using synthetic data to enhance research

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Here’s a COVID catch-22: Data generated by the pandemic could help save patients’ lives but patients’ privacy rights are slowing the ability to process data generated by the pandemic. And it’s a massive problem.

The world is awash in data about the virus, so the sheer volume of data is a challenge on its own. Add to that the challenge of keeping healthcare data private and it is extremely difficult to provide quickly actionable insights to fight the virus.Researchers at Washington University are tackling that problem by using synthetic data to spur research and collaboration. Synthetic data maintains the integrity of the information while also protecting the privacy of individual patients.

Using technology by MDClone, the researchers are able to use the original data sets to create non-human subject data that is statistically comparable to the original, but that contains no actual patient information.