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The Privacy Advisor | What IMS Health will do with Privacy Analytics — and vice versa Related reading: Video: Talking de-identification with Khaled El Emam at IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2016

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Those working with Privacy Analytics for their de-identification needs should take heart: The recent acquisition of Privacy Analytics by IMS Health ought not to affect them at all, unless it's for the better.

According to both sides of the buy, Privacy Analytics will retain its brand, will retain its staffing, and will likely only grow faster and take on more clients with the resources of IMS Health at its disposal.

“For our clients and the companies that we’re working with, they won’t notice much of a change,” said Khaled El Emam, CEO and co-founder of Privacy Analytics, “except our logo will change and our ability to deliver has increased dramatically. … The scale that we get being part of IMS is a tremendous benefit. We can now work globally. Building up that business would take us a long time; this allows us to scale very quickly.”

That scaling is important to IMS Health, as the de-identification software and services that Privacy Analytics delivers is key to growing IMS’ Real World Evidence business, said Real World VP and General Manager Jon Resnick. “The Real World Evidence market is a fast-growing business for us,” he said, “and Privacy Analytics allows us to continue to accelerate that business.”

Essentially, IMS has created one of the largest de-identified patient data portfolios in the world, and clients all over the globe are looking to use it to answer myriad questions. “We answer a lot of questions around patterns of disease,” Resnick said, “burden of disease, epidemiological questions, safety and effectiveness of medication questions” – the list goes on.

But those researchers need confidence that the data is de-identified and safe to work with from a privacy standpoint. “Khaled is a real leader in the space,” said Resnick. “As we look forward, having him be our champion for de-identification and privacy is a big asset for us.”

And the feeling is mutual. “They’ve valued privacy from the very beginning,” said El Emam. “I would put IMS at the very top of companies that value privacy and see it as an important value and competitive advantage.”

format_quote“They’ve valued privacy from the very beginning,” said El Emam. “I would put IMS at the very top of companies that value privacy and see it as an important value and competitive advantage.”

“We’re the global leader in privacy management,” said Resnick, “and this is just underlining that capability, particularly as data types get more complex. In moving from structured to unstructured sources, the ability to leverage technology in this space provides a great benefit to us and our clients.”

This acquisition and the company’s stance in general is about more than compliance, Resnick emphasized. “We want to be above and beyond standards that exist. It’s what we do, and it’s critical to our business model and our clients’ business models. You can look at evolutions in the regulatory landscape [like the GDPR in the EU] and we want to be ahead of them. Privacy Analytics provides that to us, a strong voice, a good technology, and that will enable us to continue to extend what we’re able to do and what we’re able to add.”

For those already working with Privacy Analytics, or new clients in the future, IMS can extend Privacy Analytics’ capabilities as well, beyond a simple ability to scale.

“We see a lot of companies,” said El Emam, “that have data and want to do something with their data. They know it’s valuable and want to build an analytics business or a consulting business or whatever it might be. … It could be commercial, or not for profit, but it often takes them a long time to get from that point to figuring out what that business is. … IMS is very good at that, helping organizations figure out what to do with data. If you have data and want to figure out how to use it to inform treatment decisions, sales and marketing decisions, that’s something they do very well.”

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