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Towards a cross‐context identity management framework in e‐health

Mina Deng (IBBT‐COSIC, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven‐Heverlee, Belgium)
Danny De Cock (IBBT‐COSIC, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven‐Heverlee, Belgium)
Bart Preneel (IBBT‐COSIC, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven‐Heverlee, Belgium)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 19 June 2009




Modern e‐health systems incorporate different healthcare providers in one system and provide an electronic platform to share medical information efficiently. In cross‐context communications between healthcare providers, the same information can be interpreted as different types or values, so that one patient will be issued different identifiers by different healthcare providers. This paper aims to provide a solution to ensure interoperability so that multiple healthcare providers will be able to collaborate in one e‐health system.


This paper primarily focuses on how different healthcare providers, instead of the patients, are able to interact and share information on a common e‐health platform.


In the course of the work, it was found that previous e‐health solutions mainly have a limited view of patient information, where a user‐centric approach for identity management is usually restricted to a single healthcare provider. Interoperability in an e‐health system becomes more problematic when more actors collaborate, and hence linkability from one context to another should not be straightforward. However, some form of linkability, such as the possibility to follow up a patient's medical treatment, is desirable in the e‐health sector, even when it needs to cross different contexts. Therefore, the authors have designed an identity management mechanism to ensure semantic interoperability when data is exchanged among different authorized healthcare providers.

Research limitations/implications

The paper points out that the next generation of e‐health will move towards federated e‐health and will require user‐centricity and transparency properties so that patients are able to specify and verify the disclosure of their medical information.


This paper proposes a new service for cross‐context identity management in e‐health systems, improving interoperability between agencies when context‐specific information is transferred from one healthcare provider to another. How the proposed cross‐context identity management service can be integrated in an e‐health system is explained with a use case scenario.



Deng, M., De Cock, D. and Preneel, B. (2009), "Towards a cross‐context identity management framework in e‐health", Online Information Review, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 422-442.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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