New measures to increase availability and boost healthcare data sharing

April 30, 2018 in General

On 25/04 the European Commission put forward a set of measures to increase availability and boost healthcare data sharing. The Commission adopted the “Communication on enabling the digital transformation of health and care in the Digital Single Market; empowering citizens and building a healthier society”, in which it stressed the importance of improving healthcare and medical research by means of digital technologies fostering data-driven innovation. More specifically, the Commission underlined its intention to take further actions in three key areas:

- Citizens’ secure access to and sharing of health data across borders: Citizens should remain in control of the use of their personal data, including health data, and be able to access and share it securely with authorised parties. The EC has stressed the fact that emerging technologies, such as blockchain, innovative identity management and certification mechanisms, must be in line with the Cybersecurity Communication and the GDPR.

- Better data to advance research, disease prevention and personalised health and care: Data produced by new technologies can help doctors and scientists better understand, prevent and diagnose disease.

- Digital tools for citizen empowerment and person-centred care: The use of digital tools, such as wearables and apps, allow citizens to improve their well-being and quality of care, as well as to easily provide health data to their doctors.

According to the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, the proposals set forth by the EC will not only lead to easier access to health data, but will also allow for significant improvements in the field of disease prevention, patient-centred care, treatments and rapid responses to pandemic threats.

Apart from securing citizens’ healthcare data, the EC also proposed further actions to reach:

- Better access to and reusability of public sector data: the revised law on Public Sector Information limit the exceptions that allow public bodies to charge more than the marginal costs of data dissemination for the reuse of their data. The new rules also facilitate the reusability of open research data resulting from public funding and oblige Member States to develop open access policies.

- Scientific data sharing in 2018: A new set of recommendations provide guidance on implementing open access policies in line with open science objectives.

- Private sector data sharing in business-to-business and business-to-governments contexts: businesses operating in the EU can found guidelines on this topic in the new Communication entitled “Towards a common European data space”.

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