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The Estonian Council Presidency is due to its focus called a digital presidency. Every aspect of our society is influenced by digital solutions, including our health. Consequently, Estonia will start discussions on the free movement of data in the health sector.
Prior to its presidency, the Government Office of Estonia had commissioned a study ‘Mapping out the obstacles of free movement of electronic health records in the EU in light of the digital single market’. The study compares the Estonian eHealth system with five Member States (Finland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the UK) that were chosen to have a better understanding of the diversity of eHealth systems that are being used in the European Union (EU).
The study mapped the obstacles as well as enablers of movement of health data, including expectations of the population and the patients’ possibilities of using their own health data in the surveyed Member States and across borders. In addition, it provided recommendations to overcome the obstacles identified in the study. Overall, the report shows that necessary preconditions for the free and safe movement of health data across the borders of Member States exist in the EU. It concludes that the main barriers for free movement of health data are not information technology (IT) or legislation, but rather so-called soft aspects such as people’s attitudes, awareness and cooperation.
Overall, Estonia is of the opinion that calculated use of e-health solutions supports the general targets of the health policies of Member States, so that people will be healthier, and health systems will be sustainable and more manageable. Consequently, its presidency will also focus on eHealth aspects. There are plans to launch a discussion on the promotion of cooperation and coordination on e-health in order to create the necessary preconditions for the wider use and cross-border movement of …
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.