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Federal Statistical Office

ofs, medical statistics

The medical statistics of Swiss hospitals contain data on all the hospitalizations in the country since 1998. At the time of its creation, the greatest challenge concerning data protection was to generate for each person hospitalized an identifier that could recognize a rehospitalization without endangering patient anonymity. The concept of an anonymous linking code developed at that time by Professor Jaquet-Chiffelle was put into effect; this allowed authorized persons to gain access to anonymous information on the follow-up of patients. Today the qualities of this concept, fundamental to the Swiss Health System, are unanimously acknowledged.

Twenty years later, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office presented Professor Jaquet-Chiffelle with a new challenge : develop further his initial concept of an anonymous linking code so that its use as an anonymous identifier could be generalized in order to match data from several different sources and be applied to cases other than the medical statistics of hospitals. Prof. Jaquet-Chiffelle rapidly met the challenge and succeeded in elaborating a daring and innovative concept which will enable the generalization of matching in a completely secure and anonymous manner. It is thanks to his expertise in the fields of security and cryptography, to his widespread knowledge of scientific and statistical questions, as well as his extensive experience of the processes and pratical matters that are at stake in problems involving security and protection, that the Confederation has at its disposal today an innovative and realistic system that enables it to fulfill its public mandate as trustworthy manager of data banks containing sensitive personal data.

- Antoine Lieberherr, statistics of hospitals, SFO


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