What does the European Health Data Space (EHDS) mean for digital health companies: opportunity or obstacle?

The collection, access, use and re-use of health data is a huge challenge in healthcare. To facilitate better access and exchange of health data, European Health Data Space (EHDS) was launched, bringing opportunities for digital health companies.

The fourth industrial revolution comes with rapid changes in technology, industries, and societal patterns and processes due to increasing interconnectivity and smart automation. This fourth wave draws its energy from an abundance of data combined with powerful algorithms.


In terms of challenges, the EU digital health ecosystem may be characterized in the context of data localization, reimbursement localization, and sometimes even culture, which limits its inherent scalability, impact, and value. The truth is, only eight of today's top 200 digital companies are domiciled in the EU, while EU economic growth is also declining—these trends are likely not mutually exclusive.


Data flows are essential to a thriving European digital ecosystem and will be a key driver in making the 2020s the ‘Digital Decade’. To maintain an innovative, sustainable, and globally competitive health industry, opening health data access is critical. However, data does not always need to be transported or transformed to have broader use and can remain distributed (federated) so that it remains valuable for its original purpose.


To promote data access, European Health Data Space (EHDS) were modeled by the European Commission (EC) to unlock the value of the data economy. The EHDS aims to make full use of digital health to provide high-quality healthcare while reducing inequities.


EHDS initiative will add momentum to the digital transformation process of healthcare systems in Europe, while bringing opportunities for digital health companies. Providing access to health data enables digital health companies to facilitate their research and health care innovation as well as improving the health of European citizens through the power of available data. Additionally, this initiative is said to enhance the development of digital health products and services, including those incorporating AI in the field of health, while helping companies to deliver people-centered healthcare solutions across Europe.


The European Commission also launched a call for tenders of “A competitive health-related industry (2022)” to scale up multi-party computation, data anonymization techniques, and synthetic data generation, as part of Horizon Europe Program. This proposal is expected to foster the development of secure, interoperable, transparent - and therefore trustable - cross-border health data hubs that can facilitate the provision of the required testing environments for innovators. It will facilitate innovations in the field of data-driven tools, technologies and digital solutions for wellbeing, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of care.


To learn more about some of the latest public policies to reduce data barriers, or digital health ecosystem trends, you may check-in with Global Head G4A, Dominick Kennerson, who will be discussing Artificial Intelligence Act, data policies and smart investment at GIANT Health on May 18th. Save your seat via this link: https://www.giant.health/european-health-tech-innovation-week-2022-berlin




1. Digital health data and services – the European health data space (europa.eu)

2. Scaling up multi-party computation, data anonymization techniques, and synthetic data generation