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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 19.07.2018, 21:59

Estonia wanting to create 'coalition of the willing' to promote e-health in EU

BC, Tallinn, 12.10.2017.Print version
Estonia wishes to bring together European Union countries that would be willing to launch a project concerning the cross-border movement of healthcare data and, if successful, to also encourage others to join, deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs for e-services development and innovation Ain Aaviksoo said, cites LETA/BNS.

"During our presidency we want to encourage those member states that are willing and able to share the data to do it, and to show the way to those others who may need to change," Aaviksoo told the Euractiv news portal.


He said that the project could be launched very soon. Aaviksoo added that Estonia has not proposed any new legal initiatives, but is hoping to form a coalition of the willing consisting of member states that are backing it with their own national investment. "But we also have very good collaboration with the European Commission, which is seconding that, and also the private sector is coming," Aaviksoo said.


"By the end of this year, we hope to collect as many signatures as possible to what we call a letter of intent," he said.


The deputy secretary general told the news portal that the free movement of data could become the fifth freedom in the European Union alongside the free movement of goods, capital, people and services.


The cross-border flow of data has taken center stage in the discussions in Brussels. One of the examples is when citizens move to another EU member state, their healthcare data cannot be simply transferred, which is why their treatment could be compromised, Euractiv said.


Speaking about data protection, Aaviksoo said that member states can apply internal additional measures when it comes to health data. The "coalition of the willing" enables, at a minimum, the implementation of the European Union's data protection regulation.


"We have very strong reasons to believe there is actually an increased consensus among many member states that the combination of what we call technology, legal framework and data governance is what needs to be adjusted in specific countries. So it is not specific laws, but really how you apply that," Aaviksoo said.


Clemens Martin Auer, director general of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health and Women's Affairs, said that using the opportunities of information technology in healthcare, or e-health, is one of the most important innovative drivers in the healthcare sector. "And especially for organizing the continuous care in the fragmented world of healthcare services," Auer said. He noted that a "coalition of the willing" to a certain extent is true but the position of the largest countries of the European Union, such as Germany, is still unclear.


A three-day conference on e-health is to be held next week in Tallinn in the framework of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union, which is to bring together EU policymakers, health ministers of the member states, patient organizations, representatives of the IT and healthcare sector, doctors and researchers. Altogether 700 people are expected to participate in the conference titled "Health in the Digital Society. The Digital Society for Health."


The conference will discuss the rights of people to manage their own health data, the cross-border and free movement of data, the use of data in research and development activity and the creating the conditions for a digital single market in healthcare.

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