EUROPE – The European Commission has launched the European Health Data Space (EHDS), which aims to give people control and use of their health data in their home country or other member countries, while also enabling cross-border projects for researchers, public institutions, and industry.

This initiative unveiled by the European Commission will foster a “true single market” for digital health services and products across the EU bloc.

It also provides a consistent, trustworthy, and efficient framework for using health data for research, innovation, policy-making, and regulatory activities, all while adhering to the EU’s stringent data protection standards.

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 center, empowering them with full control over their data to obtain better healthcare across the EU.”

Two health data systems

and another for citizens.

People will be able to access their health data in electronic form, adding information, correcting incorrect data, restricting access to certain people, and seeing how their health data is used.

When their health data is divided among healthcare providers or if they move country, some people have difficulty getting diagnosed or treated.

In some cases, accessing healthcare may necessitate an individual fighting to prove that there is a problem – a digital trail of tests, previous issues, and curated information could make this process less difficult.

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

Health data privacy still a concern

Concerns about digital privacy continue to be prevalent. All EU member states are also expected to appoint digital health authorities to oversee privacy protection.

Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys (MEPs) are expected to express concerns about data privacy, while others will wonder how the logistics will work – national health services in the EU are not all created with equal digital capacity.

These authorities are expected to deliver systems that are interoperable with each other while remaining secure enough to withstand cyber-attacks. Accordingly, the EU intends to provide funding to help balance capacity.

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

According to the Commission, access should be granted only when the data will be used without revealing identities.

Individuals who use the EHDS will not be allowed to create “harmful products” or raise insurance premiums based on the prevalence of an illness.

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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