Differentially Private Release of Heterogeneous Network for Managing Healthcare Data

Document Type


Source of Publication

ACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data

Publication Date



With the increasing adoption of digital health platforms through mobile apps and online services, people have greater flexibility connecting with medical practitioners, pharmacists, and laboratories and accessing resources to manage their own health-related concerns. Many healthcare institutions are connecting with each other to facilitate the exchange of healthcare data, with the goal of effective healthcare data management. The contents generated over these platforms are often shared with third parties for a variety of purposes. However, sharing healthcare data comes with the potential risk of exposing patients’ sensitive information to privacy threats. In this article we address the challenge of sharing healthcare data while protecting patients’ privacy. We first model a complex healthcare dataset using a heterogeneous information network that consists of multi-type entities and their relationships. We then propose DiffHetNet , an edge-based differentially private algorithm, to protect the sensitive links of patients from inbound and outbound attacks in the heterogeneous health network. We evaluate the performance of our proposed method in terms of information utility and efficiency on different types of real-life datasets that can be modeled as networks. Experimental results suggest that DiffHetNet generally yields less information loss and is significantly more efficient in terms of runtime in comparison with existing network anonymization methods. Furthermore, DiffHetNet is scalable to large network datasets.




Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)


Computer Sciences


Information systems, Data management systems, Information systems applications, Data mining, Security and privacy

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


Open Access Type

Bronze: This publication is openly available on the publisher’s website but without an open license