European Health Data Space could change EU health dynamics

european health data space, healthcare in the EU
© Karel Noppe

The European Health Data Space (EHDS) proposes infrastructural change in how data is used across healthcare in the EU

The European Commission want to implement a new health infrastructure – if the proposal is supposed by the Council and European Parliament – which allows data-sharing across Member States. The EHDS was invented after COVID-19, to increase the potential of EU research collaboration and improved health outcomes.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “The European Health Data Space is a fundamental game changer for the digital transformation of healthcare in the EU. It places the citizens at its centre, empowering them with full control over their data to obtain better healthcare across the EU.”

There will be two health data systems, one for researchers and one for individuals

There will be two systems – one for researchers and health professionals to further medical research, with the second created for citizens.

People will be able to access their health data in electronic form, with the ability to add information, rectify incorrect data, restrict access to some people and see how their health data is used. Some people struggle to get diagnosed or treated, when their health data is divided between healthcare providers or if they move country.

In some situations, accessing healthcare can require an individual  fighting to prove that there is a problem – a digital trail of tests, previous issues and curated information could change how arduous this process can be.

Member States will be expected to ensure that patient summaries, ePrescriptions, images, and image reports, laboratory results, discharge reports are issued in a way that is compatible with the proposed EHDS system.

The data will not be shared with organisations looking to make money

All EU states are also expected to assign digital health authorities, to oversee the protection of privacy.

The EHDS will create a pool of data that is accessible to researchers, innovators, public institutions or industry, but access will only be granted with a permit from a health data access body.

The Commission propose that access is only granted when the data will be used without revealing identities. Individuals using the EHDS will not be allowed to design “harmful products” or increase an insurance premium by looking at the prevalence of an illness.

Digital privacy concerns remain among Member States

MEPs are expected to raise concerns about data privacy, while others will question how the logistics will work – national health services across the EU are not created with equal digital capacity. These authorities are expected to deliver systems that are interoperable with each Member State, while remaining secure enough to thwart cyber attacks.

The EU will aim to provide funding to help even out capacity.

The Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, said: “I am proud to announce the first common EU data space in a specific area. The European Health Data Space will be a ‘new beginning’ for the EU’s digital health policy, making health data work for citizens and science.”


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