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Brussels wants to create EU health data space to streamline access

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By Alberto De Filippis
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Brussels wants to make European health data easier to access throughout the continent, in order to reduce waste and boost medicine research.

The European Commission aims to allow patients to obtain their medical data online and in a Europe-wide single format by 2025, which would also be accesible by all types of professionals, including regulators, researchers and doctors.

It also estimates that within ten years, its plans for a European health data space could lead to savings of more than €10 billion.

According to Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, the system would be unprecedented.

"Health data is power and health data is the blood running through the veins in our health care systems," Schinas told reporters on Tuesday. "And our proposal for a European Health data space, is the first of its kind worldwide. It is a milestone for our digital transformation and a real revolution in the European medical history."

Brussels says the changes would lead to a serious amount of savings in cost, with medical prescriptions on paper, for example, still being widely used across the EU.

The new system would allow patients to access their prescriptions online within their resident member state, as well as in others.

Arthur Dauphin, a digital project manager at consumer organisation France Assos Health, told Euronews that he is aware of the risks of such a centralised system, but also recognises the benefits that can come from it.

"Health users are very inclined to share their health data, but not just anyhow," Dauphin said. "And so it is true that ultimately this new proposal is how this European health area can create a space of trust in which we could share its health data for the benefit of all because it is really the benefit for the greatest number. 

"There is also a strong expectation on the part of citizens and so this is how this space can contribute to it, whether it is on questions of security, on questions of redistribution or the value of this data."

The proposal will now need approval from the European Parliament and EU governments.