PM+: EU policymakers must recognise 'data needs' of the healthcare sector

Data protection and medical innovation must go hand in hand, says Nicole Denjoy.

By Nicole Denjoy

02 Apr 2015

Wouldn't you prefer your grandmother to monitor her health at home through regular video chats with her care team rather than visiting her doctor and the hospital all too often?

Access to health data is essential in delivering seamless and quality care and we at COCIR have wanted an effective, clear and workable data protection framework since the European commission announced its plan to reform the European legal framework back in 2012.

While the medical imaging, radiotherapy and healthcare ICT industry strongly supports the rights of individuals to exercise control over their personal information, some concerns have been raised that the draft regulation may restrict medical innovation and research efforts that will benefit society as a whole.

Data collected, stored and managed by our technologies is a critical component in driving and informing healthcare research in Europe.

"We echo the sentiments of ESMO's John Crown and Paolo Casali who recently warned about the risk that the European parliament's current position on data protection might have damaging consequences on health research in the EU"

For this reason, we echo the sentiments of ESMO's John Crown and Paolo Casali who recently warned about the risk that the European parliament's current position on data protection might have damaging consequences on health research in the EU.

Medical devices, eHealth systems and networks support the timely and secure flow of patients' data to ensure they are available at the point of care and throughout the healthcare cycle.

Quality healthcare and medical research depend on the availability of comprehensive health data, collected at the point of care and throughout the healthcare cycle.

Modern data-driven approaches which include telemonitoring, large disease databases, personalised medicine, medical imaging, human genome decoding, disease prediction, biobanks and biomarkers rely on the collection, analysis and sharing of health data to better understand diseases and to make the right choices for medical treatment.

Let's take the example of mHealth. Mobile applications offer physicians and medical facilities with several key advantages in managing the health of ambulatory patients.

To list a few of them, it can facilitate more regular communications with patients through videoconferencing or secure messenger services, or it can be paired with monitoring devices such as blood pressure devices from which data can be transmitted directly to physicians and care facilities for analysis.

As a result, mHealth can provide enhanced outpatient care through proactive patient monitoring.

This will allow medical care to shift from acute reactive treatment to preventive care centred on the patient.

"We believe that a modern and knowledge-based society like the EU should not hinder the progress of health and medical research on the fear that it might increase risks to privacy"

Although we are aware that data processing techniques and practices may incur risks to privacy by accelerating and multiplying data flows, these risks should be evaluated in light of the advances of healthcare innovation and benefits to society.

Data processing is too often associated with privacy intrusion while the medical technology industry has invested in robust data security systems and established comprehensive controls to protect sensitive data from intrusion, theft, loss and misuse.

We believe that a modern and knowledge-based society like the EU should not hinder the progress of health and medical research on the fear that it might increase risks to privacy.

We will not find the right balance society needs between safeguarding privacy and encouraging healthcare innovation by accepting this trepidation.

On the contrary, we should all understand the new opportunities arising from medical innovations and frame them with adequate and workable safeguards.

Our industry supports the goal of the EU to create a vibrant life sciences and health technology sector in Europe and we believe the necessary assets are available, provided the right policies and laws are in place.

Therefore, we urge European policymakers to recognise and address the special 'data needs' of the healthcare sector in their revision of the data protection framework, this will ensure that data protection and medical innovation go hand in hand in the future.

 

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