The European Commission has made clear its intention to harness the potential that digital innovation can offer, and in May 2015, announced it Digital Single Market strategy. A key part of this is the digital transformation of health and care in order to improve healthcare for its citizens. On 20 July 2017, the European Commission launched a public consultation to assess how digital innovation can be used to enhance health and care in Europe. This consultation follows on from the Roadmap published last month, with the aim of developing a new policy Communication by the end of 2017.

The consultation focuses on collecting information on three main areas:

(i) cross-border access to and management of personal health data, through electronic medical records and e-prescriptions;

(ii) sharing of data and expertise to advance research, assist with personalized healthcare and anticipate epidemics; and,

(iii) measures for widespread uptake of digital innovation and interaction between patients and healthcare providers.

The questions are very much at a fact-finding level, asking respondents’ views on a wide range of issues, particularly on data protection, which, as recent cyber-attacks on the UK NHS and sanctions imposed by the UK Information Commissioner have shown, is an important factor in a digital market. However, although the Roadmap sets out some intended outcomes that are in line with the three areas of the consultation, the ultimate goal of “widespread adoption of digital technology to make borderless European health and care a reality” is unlikely to be obtained by the end of the year.

The Commission is inviting citizens, patient organizations, healthcare professionals, public authorities and any other users of digital health tools to share their views until 12 October 2017.