Digital health and care


In April, the European Commission, in its mid-term review on the implementation of the Digital Single Market strategy, adopted a plan of action on a communication which aimed to put citizens at the centre of the healthcare system.

The ‘digital transformation of health and care in the Digital Single Market’ communication recognises the State of Health in the EU ‘Companion Report 2017’ findings that only a fundamental rethink of health and care systems across Europe can ensure that they remain fit for purpose.

It states: “Health and care systems require reforms and innovative solutions to become more resilient, accessible and effective in providing quality care to European citizens.”

Outlining the serious challenges facing Europe’s health and care systems, it highlights how digitisation can be utilised not only to improve efficiencies in tackling the various challenges but also an enabler of overall transformation for the delivery of care across Europe.

The Communication identified three priorities including:

Citizens’ secure access to their health data: enabling citizens to access their health data across the EU;
Personalised medicine through shared European data infrastructure: allowing researchers and other professionals to pool resources (data, expertise, computing processing and storage capacities) across the EU; and

Citizen empowerment with digital tools for user feedback and person-centred care: using digital tools to empower people to look after their health, stimulate prevention and enable feedback and interaction between users and healthcare providers.

Each priority is supported by a set of actions on how it can be attained. These actions are outlines in the infographic above.

The Communication states: “The vision outlined in this communication is to promote health, prevent and control disease, help address patients’ unmet needs and make it easier for citizens to have equal access to high quality care through the meaningful use of digital innovations.

“It will also strengthen the resilience and sustainability of Europe’s health and care systems. By helping to maximise the potential of the digital internal market with a wider deployment of digital products and services in health and care, the proposed actions also aim to stimulate growth and promote the European industry in the domain.”

European health challenges

• Ageing population and chronic diseases putting pressure on health budgets

• Unequal quality and access to healthcare services

• Shortage of health professionals

Potential of digital applications and data to improve health

• Efficient and integrated healthcare systems

• Personalised health research, diagnosis and treatment

What EU citizens expect… 

90% Agree to access their own health data
(requiring interoperable and quality health data)

80% Agree to share their health data
(if privacy and security are ensured)

80% Agree to provide feedback on quality of treatments

Support European Commission:

1. Secure access and exchange of health data


Citizens securely access their health data and health providers (doctors, pharmacies…) can exchange them across the EU.


• eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure will deliver initial cross-border services (patient summaries and ePrescriptions) and cooperation between participating countries will be strengthened.

• Proposals to extend scope of eHealth cross-border services to additional cases, e.g. full electronic health records.

• Recommended exchange format for interoperability of existing electronic health records in Europe.

2.  Health data pooled for research and personalised medicine


Shared health resources (data, infrastructure, expertise…) allowing targeted and faster research, diagnosis and treatment.


• Voluntary collaboration mechanisms for health research and clinical practice (starting with “one million genomes by 2022” target).

• Specifications for secure access and exchange of health data.

3. Digital tools and data for citizen empowerment and person-centred healthcare


Citizens can monitor their health, adapt their lifestyle and interact with their doctors and carers (receiving and providing feedback)


• Facilitate supply of innovative digital-based solutions for health, also by SMEs, with common principles and certification.

• Support demand uptake of innovative digital-based solutions for health, notably by healthcare authorities and providers, with exchange of practices and technical assistance.

• Mobilise more efficiently public funding for innovative digital-based solutions for health, including EU funding


Infographic source: European commission


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