Under European law, citizens have the right to access their personal data, including their health data. Regulation (EU) 2016/679 lays downs the conditions for the lawful processing of personal data, including data concerning health. However, citizens are not able to access, nor security share their health data across borders. 

The ability to exchange electronic health records (‘EHR's) within and across borders has several benefits: 

  • Improving the quality of care for citizens.
  • Reducing the cost of healthcare to households.
  • Supporting the modernisation of health systems in the EU, which are under pressure from demographic changes, rising expectations and costs of treatment. 

For example, sharing the results of blood tests in a digital format among clinical teams prevents repeating invasive and costly tests on the same person. Similarly, where patients need to see different health professionals, sharing electronic health records can avoid a repetition of the same information about their medical history saving time for all parties involved and improving the quality of care. 

The EC's Recommendation (EU) 2019/243, 6 February 2019, sets out a framework for the development of a European electronic health record exchange format in order to achieve secure, interoperable, cross-border access to, and exchange of, electronic health data in the Union. 

The framework includes:

  • A set of principles that should govern access to and exchange of electronic health records across borders in the Union.
  • A set of common technical specifications for the cross-border exchange of data in certain health information domains, which should constitute the baseline for a European electronic health record exchange format.
  • A process to take forward the further elaboration of a European EHR format. 

The recommendation also encourages Member States to ensure secure access to electronic health record systems at national level.

PANACEA Research perspectives: PANACEA is developing a Secure Information Sharing Platform (SISP), which is designed to enable healthcare personnel to coordinate and share healthcare information in near real time within their own organisations and with external organisations. It is expected that the tool will make healthcare information exchange more efficient, compliant with regulations and more secure than the current baseline by promoting interoperable file formats, crytographic methods and a mutual trust model. Information sharing can take place also cross-border. 

Lookout Watch entry date: 24/07/2019

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