Public Health

'Health in the digital society' conference, Tallinn, 17 October 2017

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Message from Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety 

EU citizens clearly care about the innovation and digitisation of health care. We all see the potential of digital solutions in the prevention and management of chronic diseases and in keeping a healthy lifestyle. That is why the Commission is committed to overcoming the current barriers to the free movement of patients and data. If we want to safeguard the wellbeing of our citizens and support the modernisation of national health systems, we need to pool evidence and trigger research and investment in digital health, and help people manage their own health.

Indeed, these are some of the challenges identified in the mid-term review of the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy this May. To achieve these aims, the Commission is developing a Communication specifically on digital health and care.  Through a public consultation that ended on 12 October, we asked citizens and stakeholders for feedback on three main pillars:

  1. Citizens' secure access to their health data and the possibility to share it across borders through interoperable electronic health records;
  2. Connecting and sharing data and expertise to advance research, improve prevention, personalise health and care, and better anticipate epidemics;
  3. Using digital services to promote citizen empowerment and integrated person-centred care.

The public consultation drew nearly 1500 replies and showed a broad support for health related actions in the Digital Single Market. More than 90% of respondents agree that citizens should be able to manage their own data. More than 80% agree that sharing health data can be beneficial. Nearly 55% report not having access to digital health services. More than 80% agree that citizen feedback to healthcare providers and professionals is essential to improve services.

Unsurprisingly, privacy and security were mentioned as the main concerns. According to the respondents, the most important tasks for the EU are the development of standards for data quality and reliability, standardised electronic health records and health-related cybersecurity standards.

I would like to thank everyone who expressed their views in the consultation. This input will help us finalise the policy Communication setting out the scope for further measures in digital health and care, in the coming months. As we enter into the next phase in building the DSM, I will strive to meet the high expectations of European citizens, building on our successes in digital health and care for the benefit of patients, health systems and medical research.

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