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What is 'potentially identifiable' data?

Data containing variables other than name and address can still be potentially identifiable if indirect identification of an individual or organisation is possible.  For example data including a combination of date of birth, sex, and postcode may be identifiable if this combination of variables can uniquely identify an individual. In particularly small data sets, even a single variable such as a postcode may be an indirect identifier.  If only one or more of the persons or organisations are potentially identifiable, then the full data set is considered potentially identifiable.

If you are a researcher requesting data items such as the principal diagnosis, procedure, admission date, age and hospital of admission, these data could be considered potentially identifiable data.  If you are completing an application under the Public Health Act (PHA) please explain why/how your study will benefit from using detailed confidential health data in Section 7.3 ‘Describe the rationale for using identifiable confidential health information.’  

The Statistical Services Branch can provide more advice about accessing confidential health data for research purposes.

Last updated: 9 September 2019