Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Health Data Space (EHDS) is the proposal that fills the much-needed action to create a common space for European digital health data. It is one of the European Commission’s priorities for 2019-2024 mandate and something the European Parliament has been very vocal about.
It is a key pillar for a strong and resilient European Health Union.
It is easy to see the benefits and how EHDS will help researchers, innovators, and policymakers to make the best use of electronic health data in a coordinated way while guaranteeing privacy. Also, the potential to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases – when sharing electronic health records, genomics data, and data from patient registries among others – might give us a better and more renovated health framework.
The COVID-19 pandemic clearly showed the key role that electronic and digital solutions play in global health threats, which will sadly become more and more usual if we continue to avoid a truly one-health approach.
Portugal presents great examples in the use of digital health. For example, approximately 98% of the Portuguese hospital sector in primary care runs paperless with prescription services.
The high numbers of Europeans that cross borders to work, study, and travel, make it urgent that the EU implements and facilitates the exchange of health data, even for citizens who should have access to their health-related information, something that is covered by Article 15 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679. Another extremely relevant highlight of the EHDS is the possibility of the safe use of secondary health data, which will allow researchers to use health data for research and health innovation purposes.
With all the benefits for healthcare and public health that the European Health Data Space brings, it was with great disappointment that I saw that ENVI, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, was not considered as the lead competent committee for this file within the European Parliament.
EHDS has the potential to improve the prevention, diagnosis, management, and quality of life of people. This must ultimately be our guide.