05 Nov 2020

Recommendations for a data-driven EU healthcare system to fight COVID-19 and other diseases

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of European countries into a second lockdown, it has never been more urgent to make full use of health data and digital technologies to fight the spread of the virus and of other diseases, to accelerate clinical research and ensure continuity of care.

DIGITALEUROPE has published its key recommendations for a data-driven EU healthcare system based on a Common European Health Data Space.

Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl said:

“A Common European Health Data Space (EHDS) will be a key enabler of better EU coordination, preparedness and response to cross-border health threats. The COVID-19 pandemic is a dramatic example, but we should not forget other health priorities, such as the EU beating cancer plan.

Unlocking the potential of health data will help Europe fight the spread of diseases, accelerate clinical research, and ensure continuity of care for all patients. The Recovery Fund and the EU budget offer a unique opportunity to invest in robust EHDS governance and in new health technologies. This will not only save lives, but will also strengthen our health systems and create savings in the long run.

We urge the EU and Member States to collaborate with all actors, including the European Data Protection Board and industry, to quickly establish a secure and effective EHDS framework.”


A truly connected, interoperable and sustainable Common European Health Data Space is a precondition to unlock the potential of health data in the EU. It will ensure Europe remains relevant for clinical research and will pivot our society towards value-based healthcare models and systems.

For that to happen, the EU should focus on three main areas:

  • A framework of trust and legal clarity. Trust is key: we can’t have a Common EHDS without a harmonised framework of health data privacy. We call on the EDPB to issue appropriate GDPR guidance and on the Commission to establish an EU Code of Conduct on the processing of genetic, biometric, or health data.
  • Interoperability and standardisation. The EU has a key role in fostering interoperability and internationally recognised standards in health data exchange. This will also benefit health research and will facilitate uptake and interplay of smart devices for better telehealth.
  • Increase the potential of digital through investments and ambition. Dedicated funds in Next Generation EU and in the multi-annual financial framework must be targeted at radically upgrading the digital capabilities of health systems and investing in future-oriented, well-tested technologies.
Read our policy recommendations

Improving lives and managing diseases through a data-driven EU healthcare system

For more information, please contact:
Chris Ruff
Director for Political Outreach & Communications
Ray Pinto
Senior Director for Digital Transformation Policy
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