Opening Remarks by Commissioner Stella Kyriakides at the EPSCO Council – European Health Data Space

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Ministers,

First of all,   thank you for including this very important topic in today’s agenda. I would like to share a few thoughts with you on the importance of the European Health Data Space.

We all know that health data has vast potential to improve the health of our citizens if we manage to use it in an effective and safe way.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how health data can be used to improve and protect public health.

There is no doubt that  sharing data will save lives. This is the core of the proposal for a European Health Data Space.

From the very beginning, the key word when working on this proposal was trust. We need to make sure that there is  a climate of trust, where every citizen can be confident that their personal health data is handled with the greatest care, underpinned by very strong data protection rules and data security.

I firmly believe that  the European Health Data Space will also help  innovation in healthcare. This is crucial as we see  new health threats arising.

Let me give an active  example of how the European Health Data Space will help our citizens.

First, by empowering citizens to share their own health data if they so decide with medical practitioners in and across Member States, we can actually bring the practice of medicine into the 21st century.

Imagine one of your citizens is in an accident in a different Member State where he or she does not speak the language. With the European Health Data Space will have comprehensive information from the start in the language of the healthcare professional about the patient’s medical history, medication and other clinically relevant facts in order to provide the best possible care.

This means for example if a cancer patient from one Member State is traveling to another, and has to extend their stay, they will have all their data and history available to them so that they can access continuous care.

Furthermore, a new vaccine or critical therapeutic may well arrive more quickly, because it will prove far easier to conduct research on a European scale with higher quality interoperable data. In this case, all available data will be anonymous.

Finally, regulators and policy-makers will have easier access to crucial public health data in an anonymised way so that, in a pandemic, they can take the right decisions at the right time.

Ministers,

It was bold, coordinated decision-making during the pandemic that saw us deliver digital health solutions rapidly, together.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is one such solution. We built it together in record time and it now set a gold standard in digital health within our Union and beyond.

We have already laid the groundwork for the European Health Data Space. If we focus our efforts together, we can start to truly unlock the benefits of the digital transformation for our societies.

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