EU launches consultation on digital health info

European Commission plans to publish new policy communication on exchanges of patient data later in the year

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on digital innovation in health and care, aiming to publish a new policy communication by the end of the year.

Its future relevance to the UK is unclear with the country due to leave the EU in 2019, but it could have a strong influence on any arrangement to maintain an exchange of patient data across borders after Brexit.

The Commission has asked for information on three broad subjects. First is citizens' secure access to their health data and the possibility to share it across borders and improve the interoperability of electronic health records in Europe.

Second is connecting and sharing data and expertise to advance research, personalise health and care, and better anticipate epidemics. Third is on using digital services to promote citizen empowerment and integrated person-centred care.

Andrus AnsipIn a joint statement, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip (pictured) and Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis, Mariya Gabriel and Carlos Moedas said: “We are dedicated to improving European citizens' quality of living by improving Europe's health, care and research systems by using digital technologies to their full potential.

“This consultation will help us identify ways to offer citizens, medical professionals and researchers better access to health data, prevention, rapid response to pandemic threats, personalised treatments and care.

“We are considering new digital initiatives to deliver on the free movement of patients and data, to support the modernisation of national health systems, and to bring together scattered evidence and innovative knowledge from across Europe.”

An element of the recently published Digital Single Market Mid-Term Review proposed that the Commission should look into the need and scope for measures on digital health and care, in line with legislation on the protection of personal data, patient rights and electronic identification.

The Commission has set up an online survey facility for input, with a deadline of 12 October.

Picture from the European Commission