What’s the objective?
overall aim is to ensure the best possible healthcare for citizens regardless
of their current whereabouts in the EU. Interoperability is the means of
achieving this. The ability of citizens to access the health data summarised in
their Electronic Health Record (EHR) varies widely between Member States.
its recommendations from February 2019, the Commission highlights five key
areas that will be available digitally in the EU: patient summaries,
ePrescriptions, laboratory results, medical imaging and reports, and hospital
What does it mean?
providers and hospitals which have cross-border access to information on
important health issues such as allergies, previous illnesses and currently
prescribed medicines, could treat any patient across the EU based on that
person’s individual needs. The aim is therefore to increase the quality and
continuity of care.
In addition, healthcare costs, such as those which occur as
the result of unnecessarily repeating a medical test, could be avoided if prior
laboratory results and medical imaging are available. The Commission believes
that this will not only reduce medical costs but also save patients valuable
As the population continues to age and the prevalence of chronic diseases
increases, the need for healthcare will also continue to rise. European health
systems need to find the solutions to future challenges.
numbers already show that there is a need for a well-functioning digital
infrastructure offering these benefits, with over 2 million registered cases
per year in which citizens have used healthcare in Member States other than
their own. Furthermore, according to a Eurobarometer survey,
52% of EU citizens would like online access to their health data, but only 18%
have done so in the past. In addition, the Commission predicts a potential
saving of over 20% in healthcare expenditure if the number of unnecessary
tests, treatments and hospitalisations can be reduced.
the cross-border exchange of important health data is a complex technical
process, requiring the EU-wide interoperability of digital systems. The
recommendations include technical specifications and standards that build on
and enhance existing structures of the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure
(eHDSI) and the work of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
Commission has stressed the importance of close cooperation with Member States
and their national contact points for eHealth in a common coordination process
and roadmap for dynamic improvements.
Focus on security
terms of cybersecurity and privacy, Member States are encouraged to maintain
the highest standards in order to win the confidence of future users and thus reveal
the added value of the data exchange programme. All measures must comply with
the principles of confidentiality, integrity and availability laid down in the
General Data Protection Regulation.
The risks of manipulation or misuse are to
be counteracted by regulations on electronic identification and authentication.
The Commission refers to the Directive on the security
of network and information systems which
ensures that certain standards are met by the Member States as long as they
comply with the Directive.
Of particular importance to ‘citizen empowerment’,
as described by the Commission’s
Communication on the digital transformation
of healthcare from April 2018, every citizen should be able to decide which
information they want to provide access to and by whom.
much of a contribution this will make towards an EU Single Digital Market
depends heavily on Member States getting involved and implementing the exchange
programme. Since January 2019, it has been possible to use ePrescriptions between
Finland and Estonia, which confirms their position as European
champions in Digital Public Services. By
the end of 2020, another 20 Member States will have followed suit, including