The Germany’s presidency of the Council of the EU has started on 1 July under the topic “Together for Europe’s recovery” with the strong focus on accelerating and sustaining the digital transformation.

Digital health and secure access and exchange of health-related data are some of the preconditions, according to the Presidency’s programme. There will also be a whole range of the events around digital health organised during the Presidency’s period (e.g. Digital Health 2020 – EU on the Move). 

The Programme, published online, highlights the access to data, responsible data use, data skills and security in the chapter called “A stronger and more innovative Europe”. The commitment is to “advance the discussion launched by the European Data Strategy on rules and guidelines for the governance of common European data spaces.” The special priority is given to managing future EU-wide health crises even more effectively by improving “pan-European access to and the exchange of health-related data.” This should lay the groundwork for a transparent European healthcare. 

Those developments on the European level come in the time when the European Connected Health Alliance finalises the Recommendations and guidelines on citizen-controlled data governance models and data donation campaigns for health, a deliverable of the Horizon 2020 project DigitalHealthEurope. The aim of DigitalHealthEurope is to provide comprehensive, integrated and centralised support to the Digital Health and Care Innovation initiative in the context of the Digital Single Market Strategy.

 “When working on Recommendations during the last year, we looked at the strategic policy documents in Europe, conducted a European-wide survey and conducted interviews with the experts in data sharing. One key message coming through is that the citizen’s control over their data should be improved in order to encourage health-related data sharing and improve the common pool of the health data in Europe”,

says Carina Dantas, coordinator of DHE project at the ECHAlliance. 

The Digital Health Society (sister organisation to ECHAlliance) is very active in the debate on health related data, data sharing, etc, through membership of a number of initiatives. Many see the Priorities of the German Presidency as a welcome opportunity to listen to recommendations and to finally make decisions on at least some of the longstanding issues.

If ever there was a time for action this is it.

The Recommendations will be released to the public soon. Stay tuned for updates with following the DigitalHealtHEurope on Twitter:

@DHE_2020 @ECHAlliance @TheDHSociety