Maximising the use of data on health in a responsible and beneficial way will form a crucial part of our future digital agenda, Seán Kelly MEP told a gathering of leading health experts, policymakers and stakeholders in the European Parliament, Brussels this week.

“EU policymakers are now discussing how Europe can grasp the innovative opportunities to improve health care with better data and more E-health services, while ensuring patient trust and confidence in the process,” said Mr Kelly, the Leader of the Fine Gael delegation in the Parliament and member of the European People’s Party’s E-Health Group.

“E-Health is a major debate right now, with challenges surrounding how our healthcare systems can manage health information or data, the legal framework to allow such information to be used to provide greater insights into health trends and more. On a practical level, there is a digital transformation of our health and social care organisations across the EU required.

“Information is power, and we need to utilise health data, which can help scientific research into better treatments and so on. However, everyone can recognise it is a sensitive issue and there are always privacy concerns which cannot be dismissed,” MEP Kelly said.

While cloud technology is a welcome development, cyber-attacks are also increasingly prominent and that can make people wary about security breaches and data abuse, according to Mr Kelly.

“Like with all personal information storing online, the necessary security measures must be in place. Beyond that, the benefit to society that E-health offers is too great to miss. Coordination and cooperation in relation to global health phenomenon, what works and does not work in terms of treatments and new discoveries must be analysed and communicated. Plus, many citizens find accessing services online very convenient so certainly, there is room for more tech-friendly IT systems to serve patients,” Mr Kelly added.

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