NewsAgreement Reached on European Health Data Space but Funding Falls Short: EIT

Agreement Reached on European Health Data Space but Funding Falls Short: EIT

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A new report from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Health Think Tank highlights a significant gap between the proposed budget and the necessary funding for the successful implementation of the European Health Data Space (EHDS).

According to the report, the allocated budget for EHDS is deemed “misaligned” and insufficient to realize the initiative’s objectives effectively. Authors emphasize the imperative for Member States to bolster their financial commitments to EHDS endeavors, asserting that increased funding is vital to maximizing its potential impact on healthcare outcomes and innovation.

The EHDS, conceived to establish a pan-European framework for sharing citizens’ health data, aims to enhance healthcare provision across borders. Its ultimate goal is to facilitate scenarios such as an Irish tourist obtaining a prescription from a German pharmacy or enabling doctors to access the medical records of a Belgian patient undergoing treatment in Italy.

Additionally, the EHDS is anticipated to stimulate research and innovation by providing academics and industry stakeholders with access to valuable health data.

The initiative gained momentum in March with the Council of the EU and the European Parliament’s provisional agreement on new legislation. This legislation is poised to streamline the exchange and accessibility of health data at the EU level. The proposed regulation mandates all electronic health record systems to adhere to the specifications of the European EHR exchange format (EEHRxF), ensuring interoperability across the EU.

However, the recently released report titled “Implementing the European Health Data Space across Europe,” unveiled during the EIT Health Summit in Rotterdam, raises concerns about the budget allocated by the European Commission (EC) for EHDS implementation. The report asserts that this budgetary allocation significantly diverges from the ambition level outlined in the proposed regulation.

Offering insights for stakeholders involved in EHDS implementation, including EU and national policymakers, health data access bodies, and healthcare providers, the report delineates recommendations across six key areas: governance, capacity and skills, resources and funding, data quality, the relationship between primary and secondary data, and fostering a data-driven culture in healthcare.

Key recommendations include advocating for adequate EU funding and improved coordination of funding allocation for EHDS projects. The report suggests creating financial incentives to encourage collaboration and resource pooling among EU Member States and regions. Additionally, it proposes that healthcare payers and the life sciences industry contribute to implementation costs, given the anticipated benefits of data access.

Furthermore, the report underscores challenges such as the absence of a data-sharing culture among health system actors and limited awareness and control of health data among citizens. It stresses the necessity for meaningful patient and civil society input and representation in EU-level data governance bodies, alongside the imperative to enhance data gathering capacity in healthcare workflows through technological solutions.

Addressing the need for workforce upskilling, the report advocates for the development of career pathways promoting skill acquisition and development in data management and data science.

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