December 3, 2018

Notice of Intent to Publish a Request for Proposals for Privacy-Preserving Record Linkage

The People-Centered Research Foundation (PCRF) intends to publish a request for proposals (RFP) from software and technology vendors to provide services and/or solutions for privacy-preserving record linkage across the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet). PCRF is an independent non-profit created to provide central governing and organizational leadership for PCORnet, a network that conducts patient-centered and data-enabled research. PCORnet is comprised of 11 partner networks, including nine Clinical Research Networks (CRNs), two Health Plan Research Networks (HPRNs); a Coordinating Center; and PCRF as headquarters. The CRNs and HPRNs contribute electronic health record data in the PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM) through a distributed data network. PCRF is building on the strengths of PCORnet and the CDM to allow for record linkage across this distributed network.

The purpose of the forthcoming RFP is to identify a privacy-preserving record linkage solution (supported by one or more vendors) to be used by all networks participating in PCORnet. PCRF aims to establish the technological and governance infrastructure to support network-wide linkage for future observational research studies, classify the network by total population and overlap, and establish a business case for efficient execution of observational research projects with linked clinical-to-clinical data across sites and clinical-to-claims data with health plan research networks. It is envisioned that PCORnet network partners will use personal identifiers stored behind their institutional firewalls to generate cryptographic hashes that can then be shared with the PCORnet Coordinating Center to determine whether a given patient has records present across multiple network partners.  Vendors should be prepared to describe their approach for generating the cryptographic hashes, including the management of keys/salts/shared secrets across network partners, as well as the algorithm(s) used to determine whether a record is deemed a “match.”  Vendors must provide information on the technology stack that underlies their solution along with the implementation process.  Documentation will also be requested related to the performance and validation of the linkage solution, its overall scalability, and the privacy and security assessments that would allow its use across health plans and health systems.  The formal RFP will include a full list of requested attributes.

If you are interested in responding to this forthcoming RFP, we invite you to submit your intention to Lindsey Petro at [email protected]. Please note that letters of intent are non-binding and not required, though strongly encouraged. All letters of intent should include “privacy-preserving record linkage” in the subject header and the following information:

  • Company name
  • Contact person
  • Intention to apply
  • Any proposed subcontractors

The estimated timeline for this process is as follows:

  • Letters of intent due December 17, 2018
  • RFP released December 31, 2018
  • Proposals due February 1, 2019
  • Award(s) announced March 1, 2019

Please reach out to Lindsey Petro ([email protected]) with any questions. Thank you in advance for your time, and we look forward to hearing from you.