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2020: Moving Towards European Health Data Space(s)

ELO Network agenda for 2020


Everywhere in Europe, nationwide eHealth infrastructures have grown out of their infancy. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) connect health professionals and citizens/patients, leading the way towards mature digital health services.
The speed of digital care transformation had increased significantly in European member states, even before the impact of the COVID-19 digitisation “booster”:
  • Sharing digital health data between patients, healthcare institutions and research is a fast-growing reality for national and regional platforms. Many use cases support patient empowerment, and provide patients with access to, and control of, their personal health data.
  • Sharing digital data across borders had been a little delayed in 2019. At the start of 2020, the available use cases were more limited, and often exclude citizens/patients from having direct access to their data.
  • Linking clinical routine care and data insights is an urgent challenge in 2020. The flexible flow of digital health data from clinical practice (i.e., real-world data) to research (governed by GDPR-compliant policies) was absolutely needed to ensure up-to-date healthcare.
ELOFigure 1: Boosting data availability: Health data from routine clinical practice (real-world data)

The European Health Data Space(s), outlined in “A European strategy for data", offers promising and forward-looking perspectives. This EU strategy aims at creating a single market for data that will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty. Rules for access to and use of data that are fair, practical, and clear are key to creating common European data spaces.

The European data strategy relies on health as one key use case and provides a domain-specific action plan towards a European Health Data Space.

Work Programme                

A crucial topic throughout 2020 was the shift from infrastructures to meaningful digital health services, and the way in which this move involved EHTEL-like organisations (ELOs).
In EHTEL, the ELO Network has been a long-standing voice for stakeholders, present throughout the existence of the EHTEL multistakeholder platform.
ELO Network members are eHealth-related competence centres. The competence centres have always worked together, sharing expertise and knowledge. Most of them are government-driven organisations involved in eHealth infrastructure planning and implementation. Operational activities focus on standardisation, interoperability and certification.
In 2020, the lessons learned by the ELO Network competence centres were also be essential for working towards European Health Data Space(s) envisaged by the EC Communication. 
As one element of EHTEL’s 2020 work programme, EHTEL submitted a joint contribution to the EC consultation on the European data strategy (which closed on 31 May 2020).
To prepare this shared contribution, the ELO Network organised a series of webinars. The webinars acted as a platform to jointly understand and debate the EU data strategy. Emphasis was placed on the European Health Data Space (EHDS) concept and its potential impact on activities in the scope of ELOs’ responsibilities.

The relevance of this process was further strengthened by the fact that Germany made the EHDS one of its focal themes for the EU Presidency in the second half 2020.

ELO Network organisations can act as enablers of real-world health data-sharing for the purposes targeted by the strategy in the health domain in the following fields:
  • Citizens have the right to access and control their personal health data and to request data portability within and across borders.
  • Regulatory and research models rely on access to health data, including individual level data from patients.
  • Strengthening and extending the use and re-use of health data could help healthcare authorities to improve the functioning of healthcare systems. Much of the data needed will come directly from European patients willing to share their data. The new digital products that emerge will boost European businesses and industry, in many fields in healthcare.
  • Innovations include Artificial Intelligence (AI), which was covered in a separate 2020 White Paper accompanying the 2020 Communication.


Figure 2: Managing all healthcare data in a joint health data space 


Three outcomes emerged from the 2020 work programme:
1. Networking of eHealth competence centres, other EHTEL members and partners: Debating lessons learned and insights around the European data strategy and its implementation in the healthcare sector.
3. Fact sheets: a summary of key messages, discussion and conclusions for each webinar.
- 2nd EHTEL/ELO Network factsheet: Architectures and processes enabling data re-use
- 3rd EHTEL/ELO Network Factsheet: Towards European data spaces for medicines
Also of interest on similar themes are two factsheets from EHTEL’s 2020 work on Building health data ecosystems for integrated care

Webinar line-up


 20 May 2020


 29 June 2020

📅 Monday, 29 June 2020      🕙 11 - 12:30 CET


 21 September 2020 


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