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French EU Presidency boosts the use of health data in Europe – Sitra at the forefront

As a pioneer in the use of health data, Finland is a sought-after partner to further its development in Europe.

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Maria Nurmi

Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs, Sitra

Published

The French Presidency of the EU Council is seeking to expedite the use of health data in Europe. The topic was brought up at the Ministerial Conference: “Citizenship, ethics and health data”, organised by France on 2 February. Sitra’s President Jyrki Katainen spoke at the event.

According to Katainen, EU co-operation in health data use is highly important:

“We have to seek cross-border solutions to cross-border challenges, such as health threats and chronic diseases. We need a harmonised way to interpret the General Data Protection Regulation so that health data can be used in a secure way for the benefit of us all.”

Finland and Sitra have been working persistently to promote the use of health data. Among other things, Sitra has participated in the creation of the Finnish Act on the Secondary Use of Health and Social Data. The law was the first of its kind in Europe and clarified the consent procedures of data disclosures while improving data security.

Finnish experience is now being applied in Europe. Sitra is coordinating the 25-country TEHDAS joint action. The project supports the European Commission and EU member states in harmonising policies on the use of health data. Currently, EU member states have a range of policies for using health data.

“Researchers, decision-makers and companies need clear ground rules and efficient methods for utilising health data in order to create health innovations and offer better health care to people,” Katainen stressed.

France’s initiative for European ethical principles for digital health was presented at the conference. The initiative lays the groundwork for a debate this spring on an upcoming legislative proposal by the European Commission to create a European health data space. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure citizens’ control over their own health data and that health data is a better used in research, innovations and decision-making.

Read more about the European ethical principles for digital health at the website of the French presidency.

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