20 Oct 2020

Harnessing health data to benefit patients and speed up research

  • By 2025, one in three Member States should offer cross-border access to electronic health records. Today, it is not possible to access your medical records if you cross a border.

Health systems now produce as much as 30 per cent of the world’s stored data. Unfortunately, much of it is paper-based and remains siloed in hospitals and other specific organisations. It is also exposed to data breaches and ransomware attacks with a significant privacy impact on patients and financial impact on our hospitals. As well as a bold legal framework supported by Member States, investment is needed to digitise, connect and secure these disparate data systems.

Investment will also be needed for a pan-European health data infrastructure. Electronic health records are at the core of a patient-centred, interoperable, trust-based Common European Health Data Space that will propel the EU towards new predictive and preventative models of care.

Harnessing health data will also benefit researchers from the public and private sectors, who need quick and safe access to this data to develop treatments and vaccines, as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.

The digital technology for moving to a paperless environment is there, but adoption of electronic health records stands at just 3 per cent in Europe. Similarly, investment in secure software applications in healthcare is insufficient and trails that of many other sectors.

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