Health by Numbers – Big Data and Healthcare in Europe

06/06/2017 News Europe , Press 2339 Views

On 24 May 2017, London Higher Europe, a consortium of thirteen higher education institutions based in London, held an event to discuss issues around big data and healthcare in Europe with the following outcome:

  • The EC (European Commission) presented on revolutionising healthcare through big data. Healthcare sector is a data-intensive industry with various data (clinical, genetic, behavioural, environmental) collected from a number of sources (electronic health records, genome sequencing machines, patient registries, social Networks, mHealth apps). The use of big data in healthcare could potentially:

–   Improve diagnosis and treatment (cure)

–   Better targeted prevention activities (prevention)

–   Better predict epidemics (prediction)

–   Behavioural change (promotion)

–   Better management of health systems

On 10 May 2017 the EC unveiled its mid-term review of the DSM (digital single market) Strategy and introduced a list of new initiatives which include:

  • new legislation on cybersecurity and the data economy – by September 2017, the EU’s cybersecurity strategy and its cybersecurity agency, ENISA will be reviewed and new rules will be proposed for guaranteeing the free flow of non-personal data across EU borders.
  • a renewed focus on e-health, working with member countries to facilitate the transfer of health records across borders and encourage the use of e-prescriptions.
  • 3 initiatives on digital health by the end 2017 are planned: citizens’ access to electronic health records; supporting the development of a secure data infrastructure; deployment of interactive digital solutions between patients and healthcare providers.

Currently, DSM remains fragmented in the EU and the main challenges to be tackled by the EC in coming years is electronic prescribing and geo-blocking.

The European Cloud Initiative aims to strengthen the EU’s position in data-driven innovation, improve its competitiveness and help create DSM in Europe.

It is based on 3 pillars in support of European science, industry, and public authorities:

  • World-class data infrastructure to store and manage data
  • High-speed connectivity to transport data
  • More powerful high performance computers to process data

It includes two initiative:

  • EOSC (European Open Science Cloud) will offer Europe’s 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals a virtual environment to store, share and re-use the large volumes of information generated by the big data revolution.
  • EDI (European Data Infrastructure), deploying the high-bandwidth networks and the supercomputing capacity necessary to effectively access and process large datasets stored in the Cloud. Focusing initially on the scientific community, the user base will over time be enlarged to the public sector and to industry. This EDI will also enable to reduce the costs of data storage and high-performance analysis.

Another EC’s priority is the ongoing work on setting the foundation for eHealth interoperability including:

–  Improve eHealth interoperability

  • Connect the EU’s health systems (eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure)
  • Cross-border exchange of health data

  eHealth Network

  • Adopted guidelines (ePrescription, Patient Summary)
  • IT works from the technology perspective, however tools/legal framework are needed to be used by physicians
  • Dedicated technical workforce is needed for IT infrastructure in the healthcare systems, as for instance banking system.
  • Reliable and fast data is needed to provide good predictions focused on concrete challenges. Collecting less data but more meaning and more sensitive.

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