The European Health Data Area
The Covid-19 pandemic was associated with important advances in vaccine technology and drew attention to the importance of digital health.
Access to vital clinical information can be critical to ensuring patient treatment and recovery. Digitization and data sharing have become essential tools for public health systems.
The creation of the European Health Data Area is one of the priorities of the European Commission.
It is a database that aims to facilitate access to information and ensure continuity of health care, even when the patient is in another European country. The system should be implemented gradually over the next few years.
The European Health Data Area – Digital health in Portugal
Portugal is one of the European countries that has stood out in terms of the digitization of health systems in the last two years.
“With digital data, what is intended is that the data that is introduced once serves the entire system generating information that feeds an entire system. What happens in Portugal happens at many levels. Today, we have clinical data resulting from clinical information on each user”, Luís Filipe Goes Pinheiro, chairman of the Board of Directors of Shared Services of the Ministry of Health (SPMS) told euronews.
Currently, in Portugal about 98% of hospitals issue digital prescriptions.
Users’ clinical files are stored online. Patients can access their health information through a website and a smartphone application, which also allows them to call a doctor for tele-consultations. Through the application, patients can call the Ministry of Health Contact Center for general consultations. In addition to Portuguese, service is provided in English and in sign language.
Healthcare professionals can take advantage of artificial intelligence and data sharing in various operations, such as triage and treatments.
“We are helping in decision-making, both for doctors and also for users in what may be some type of pathologies that they may have and that may be more easily detectable through these artificial intelligence mechanisms”, Pedro Marques, Area Coordinator, told euronews. of Data, from SPMS.
Data exchange in the European space
The exchange of data within the European Health Data Area is regulated by national and European legislation.
The goal is to ensure more efficient treatment and better diagnosis. The system should encourage scientific research. European companies will more easily be able to design personalized medicines, devices and services. It is expected that the sharing of data can favor improvements in the elaboration of health policies.
Based on the directive on cross-border healthcare, Member States collaborate through a voluntary network linking national authorities responsible for online health. The Commission created the MyHealth@EU infrastructure to facilitate the cross-border exchange of health data.
The European Health Data Area – Digital health in Germany
In Germany, digital health is making progress thanks to an application called DIGA. At a clinic in Bottrop, in the northwest of the country, doctors “prescribe” smartphone apps, as they would drugs, to help patients better manage their health.
The user can download the applications on the smartphone, tablet or computer. There are applications for various pathologies and health problems, from cancer to cardiovascular diseases, chronic migraines and depression.
“If we think about concrete examples like migraine, weight loss or tinnitus, it is possible to benefit from support outside the doctor’s office in terms of documentation, but it is also possible to get help when a health problem gets worse, so that the patient don’t be alone,” German doctor Malte Schmieding told euronews.
European countries should start harmonizing rules and standards and guaranteeing the security of patients’ health data.