10th November 2022
In September 2022, EIT Health InnoStars organised the Round Table meeting on a regulation on a European Health Data Space (EHDS) with representatives of the European Commission, national authorities, healthcare providers, payers and experts.
The amount of data in the health sector is expected to rise to 36% per year (between 2018-2025) and be higher than, for example, in the manufacturing or financial sectors. Creating the European Health Data Space (EHDS) is thus one of the European Commission’s priorities. Since making the European Health Data Space fully operational requires, among other investments, the European Commission has already decided to allocate around EUR 800 million for this purpose (for instance, within Horizon Europe).
The meeting, which EIT Health InnoStars organised at the University of Warsaw in September 2022, was the first of the series planned to be contained in the EU Member States by the European Commission. It aims to collect insights from the knowledge triangle actors concerning the regulation and its possible implementation on a national level. The discussion, led by EIT Health InnoStars and the representative of the Directorate-General for Health & Food Safety (DG SANTE) at the European Commission, gathered key representatives of the Polish Ministry of Health, eHealth Centre, National Health Fund, hospitals, academia, and other experts.
In principle, the participants, including the representatives of the Polish Ministry of Health, declared support for the proposal, emphasising that EHDS will contribute to the digitisation of the healthcare sector in Poland. The patients will gain more rights when it comes to the control of their health data. Cooperation between the Member States will strengthen the European economy and research and education sectors. Poland’s experience after engaging in the cross-border exchange of e-prescriptions and creating the COVID-19 certificate is very positive. “It gives prospects for the development of EHDS”, as the Polish Ministry’s representative stated. In Poland, 97% of all prescriptions issued are electronic, less than three years after the full rollout of this scheme.
The participants defined challenges that should be addressed before the implementation phase, including quality of data, interoperability, technological infrastructure and processes (with real-world data) and the adaptation of new technologies in the healthcare system. The participants also raised the importance of education on the use of data. Raising awareness about the benefits of the wide use of health data could increase the motivation to share it. Professional education concerning data protection topics could increase understanding that it is possible to respect the patients’ privacy on the one hand and to use their medical data on the other.
The discussion about benefits was supported by recent research on paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS) caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection among children in Poland. The Polish scientists presented one of the largest (after the US and the UK) databases of PIMS cases worldwide, according to the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling of the University of Warsaw. Thanks to the high involvement of the paediatric community in Poland, the researchers could develop a statistical characterisation of the disease and identify, for instance, the different ethnic backgrounds of patients compared to reports from other countries. This helped in understanding and predicting the possible course of the disease. The Polish researchers found, for instance, that not only age but also sex affect its course. European Health Data Space can help develop this project further and consequently enable the modelling of future demand for specific healthcare services.
The summary of the meeting is available here.