European Health Data Space in Poland – InnoStars releases and overview

In three years’ time, the amount of health data generated worldwide could grow to 175 zettabytes, which is five times more than the data generated in 2018 [1]. No wonder the creation of the European Health Data Space is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It has also been in the spotlight in Poland where a summary of roundtable discussions has just been published by EIT Health InnoStars in cooperation with Impact, one of the leading discussion platforms in CEE. 

The storage of health data is a pressing issue all around Europe. Not only the data generated will skyrocket in the near future but the way data is stored and processed will change dramatically in the next five years. Today, 80% of data processing and analysis operations take place in data centres and centralised computing infrastructure, and 20% in intelligent devices connected to the Internet.By 2025, this tendency will be reversed [2]. The increase in the amount of data in the health sector is expected to rise to 36% per year (between 2018-2025) and be higher than, for example, in the manufacturing industry or the financial sector [3]. The creation of the European Health Data Space (EHDS) is thus one of the European Commission’s priorities for 2019-2025.

EHDS could have a tremendous impact not only on the quality of healthcare but on research and policy-making as well. This, among others, has been discussed in Poland, during a roundtable held in Poznan in October 2021, whose main theme was EHDS and the possibility of its implementation from the perspective of business, public institutions and academia. This discussion is a regional continuation of what has been already initiated on the central level by EIT Health. Within the leading event, EIT Health together with partners created a series of recommendations for the European Commission to address challenges in access, storage, use and re-use of health data. These recommendations aimed to draw directions for developing innovation friendly and workable legislation that supports the EU’s political goals in the field of health data.

According to the recent summary of the roundtable (currently only available in Polish) by EIT Health InnoStars and Impact, the discussion focused on a variety of pressing topics, including patient data management and interoperability, technological infrastructure and processes (with the use of real-world data) and the adaptation of new technologies in the Polish healthcare system. An important element of the roundtable was also the role of value-based healthcare as a paradigm supporting the development of the health care system in Poland. Strategic issues such as improving the quality of healthcare based on digital solutions, new and better health policies and research/development are at the core of EHDS.

The summary’s goal is not only to illustrate the current state of implementation of EDHS elements in Poland but also to indicate specific areas and activities that should still be developed and implemented. It is also the basis for a dialogue between various stakeholders of the Polish healthcare system – including partners of the Warsaw Health Innovation Hub – in order to develop specific systematic, legal, technological solutions and business models that support a faster adaptation of EHDS.

Despite the multitude of technical and implementation details as well as regulatory conditions in which both the commercial stakeholders and the administration have a role to play, the summary adressed common denominators for improvement, such as:

  • The key position of Public Private Partnerships and other forms of collaboration between stakeholders in the transformation of healthcare, this portrays in regular exchange of good practices and experiences, mutual trust, and the enhanced role of commercial entities specialized in narrow areas and organizations such as EIT or EIC
  • Transparent, fast, and effective flow of information and coordination of activities between business actors and public administration is a sine qua non condition for the digital transformation of healthcare in Poland
  • Education and raising public awareness aimed at creating an environment conducive to the implementation of innovative solutions in health care in Poland
  • Reduction of the reimbursement time for medical procedures (today in Poland this time is, on average, 850 days)
  • Clarity of the definition of a medical effect and precise metrics used to evaluate the effects of medical procedures
  • Consistency and updating of legislation in areas related to, for example, artificial intelligence or telemedicine

The released summary feeds into the discussion on the implementation of more specific solutions for medical health data. In 2022 EIT Health InnoStars will lead a series of regional debates about possible models of digital therapeutics reimbursement. More information will be available soon.