On 14 June 2022, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council held a meeting to discuss the European Health Data Space proposal published on 3 May 2022.
The European Health Data Space proposal aims to ensure patients have access to their health data in electronic form, facilitating the sharing of data with health professionals across the EU. The proposal also serves to enable access to patient data for research purposes, innovation and public policymaking in a secure and safe environment.
These uses of patient data were welcomed by ministers, but significant hesitation remains regarding the security and safety of patient data sharing.
The discussion was guided by two main questions:
The proposal was introduced by Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. She emphasised that health data is extremely important and has huge potential to improve the health of EU citizens, if it is used in an effective and safe way.
Kyriakides clarified that citizens own their own health data and will be empowered to share their health data with health professionals across Member States, to ‘bring the practice of medicine into the 21st century.’
She pointed out that access to patient data will allow for rapid development of vaccines and medicines in the future, as researchers would have a high volume of data points to go by.
Ministers overall welcomed the proposal, noting the benefits of data sharing, accelerating research and innovation efforts and advancing the EU’s healthcare sector. The clear concern remained with issues of security and protection of data, as well as building the trust of citizens in order for the regulation to benefit everyone.