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What are Health Data Spaces?

Each time we go to the hospital, to our general practitioner or to the pharmacy, we leave personal health information behind. This data provides information about us and the state of our health. This data could be a number of things, including a medical prescription or imaging. This data is used and shared between the healthcare professionals who take care of us, to provide us with better care and to ensure the best possible treatment. 

But our data can also be valuable, and even indispensable for research and public health. Data sharing underpins life-saving research, decision-making and managing health threats such as COVID-19. The more health data is available and accessible for analysis, the better researchers and decision-makers can understand what is happening and develop tailored solutions, such as the improvement of the diagnosis of dementia, finding treatments for COVID-19, or understanding the needs of children with visual impairments.

It can still be difficult to share health data, even in emergencies. This is because health stakeholders such as hospitals, general practitioners or researchers collect data in many different formats which are incompatible with one another.

Health data spaces bring together these different types of health data to improve access to and the use of health data by providing common rules which facilitate better data sharing. Health information can be used by various actors for purposes beyond individual care, including research, prevention, diagnosis, and the development of innovations such as new treatments and health services. 

What is the European Health Data Space? 

As the COVID-19 crisis highlighted, health threats know no borders. The European Health Data Space project was concieved by the European Commission and 25 European countries to adddress the common health issues and challenges we are all facing. 

Sharing health data between European countries could help them to address these challenges. The more health data is available and accessible, the better researchers and decision-makers can understand what is happening and develop better and tailored solutions, such as better treatments or better management of health crises.  

A common European Health Data Space will promote a better exchange and access to different types of health data, not only for health research and health policy making purposes but also to support patients’ care. 


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