New European legislation is the step change we need

Our CEO Johannes Schildt explains why the proposed European Health Data Space has the potential to radically transform the delivery of healthcare across Europe.

By Kry Team

Wed May 04 2022   •   3 min read

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the potential for remarkable advances in digital healthcare. Not only in the tools and technology themselves, but also in the attitudes of doctors and patients towards using these tools. The nature of the pandemic normalised for many the concept of virtual consultations, online prescriptions and digital health records. However, healthcare systems across Europe are struggling: costs are rising, health workers are facing constant resource challenges, patient access is reducing, waiting times increasing and tax payers are not seeing the benefits of the billions invested in our public systems.

So, how do we emerge from this pattern of reducing care?

There is no single cure to what ails us, but a better, more joined up use of digital technology is surely the bedrock for the future. Simply put, the lack of interoperability between healthcare systems and our inability to share health data within as well as across borders has hindered real progress.

In recent years, the EU has focussed a number of initiatives on improving access to data for cross-border care delivery, in particular through MyHealth@EU - a digital service to support continuity of care for citizens traveling in the EU - which provided some building blocks of interoperable summaries of electronic health records and ePrescriptions. It has also gone some way to opening the hearts and minds of health professionals and patients to the value of these tools.

The pandemic has spawned some great healthcare innovation with countries sharing population covid data that informed health research and policymaking, while the European Reference Networks for Rare Diseases has proven the value of sharing medical expertise across EU borders.

Despite these positive steps, health is often seen as the last frontier to adopting digital technology.

Making an impact

If we're serious about overcoming the long-term pressures on our health systems and if we really want patients to benefit from new technologies, we need to act now at a European level to tackle the fragmented digital health market and the lack of interoperability of the tools that are central to using health data and helping patients.

That’s why the publication of the European Health Data Space (EHDS) is such an important step change in the state of European healthcare. The proposed legislative framework will promote better exchange and access to different types of health data (electronic health records, genomics data, data from patient registries etc), and sets out an important framework for making use of that data both for care delivery and for health systems and scientific research. It is a welcome recognition that the unique characteristics of health data require a different set of rules beyond GDPR that govern how it is shared.

It presents a window of opportunity to increase collaboration between countries and proactively develop the technology and data infrastructure necessary for sustainable and resilient healthcare delivery.

The EHDS presents a turning point for Europe. If we get this right, we could significantly improve the way we manage our scarce healthcare resources, and provide better quality care at a lower cost as a result. And this is something that could be replicated in other parts of the world. Europe has the potential to become a pioneer in healthcare, attracting more talent and investment to the region in the process.

If we choose to ignore the benefits of technology and of working together, then its patients that lose out. The EHDS proposal has the potential to positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people - that's the prize, and the ambition that Kry would like to support.

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Kry Team

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