Articles of the European Health Data Space (EHDS), Preamble 31 to 40



Preamble 31 to 40, Articles of the European Health Data Space (EHDS), (Proposal_3.5.2022)

(31) In order to guarantee effective exercise by patients of their rights under this Regulation, where healthcare providers develop and use an EHR system ‘in house’ to carry out internal activities without placing it on the market in return of payment or remuneration, they should also comply with this Regulation. In that context, such healthcare providers should comply with all requirements applicable to the manufacturers.


(32) It is necessary to provide for a clear and proportionate division of obligations corresponding to the role of each operator in the supply and distribution process of EHR systems. Economic operators should be responsible for compliance in relation to their respective roles in such process and should ensure that they make available on the market only EHR systems which comply with relevant requirements.


(33) Compliance with essential requirements on interoperability and security should be demonstrated by the manufacturers of EHR systems through the implementation of common specifications. To that end, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission to determine such common specifications regarding datasets, coding systems, technical specifications, including standards, specifications and profiles for data exchange, as well as requirements and principles related to security, confidentiality, integrity, patient safety and protection of personal data as well as specifications and requirements related to identification management and the use of electronic identification. Digital health authorities should contribute to the development of such common specifications.


(34) In order to ensure an appropriate and effective enforcement of the requirements and obligations laid down in Chapter III of this Regulation, the system of market surveillance and compliance of products established by Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 should apply. Depending on the organisation defined at national level, such market surveillance activities could be carried out by the digital health authorities ensuring the proper implementation of Chapter II or a separate market surveillance authority responsible for EHR systems. While designating digital health authorities as market surveillance authorities could have important practical advantages for the implementation of health and care, any conflicts of interest should be avoided, for instance by separating different tasks.


(35) Users of wellness applications, such as mobile applications, should be informed about the capacity of such applications to be connected and to supply data to EHR systems or to national electronic health solutions, in cases where data produced by wellness applications is useful for healthcare purposes. The capability of those applications to export data in an interoperable format is also relevant for data portability purposes.

Where applicable, users should be informed about the compliance of such applications with interoperability and security requirements. However, given the large number of wellness applications and the limited relevance for healthcare purposes of the data produced by many of them, a certification scheme for these applications would not be proportionate. A voluntary labelling scheme should therefore be established as an appropriate mechanism for enabling the transparency for the users of wellness applications regarding compliance with the requirements, thereby supporting users in their choice of appropriate wellness applications with high standards of interoperability and security. The Commission may set out in implementing acts the details regarding the format and content of such label.


(36) The distribution of information on certified EHR systems and labelled wellness applications is necessary to enable procurers and users of such products to find interoperable solutions for their specific needs. A database of interoperable EHR systems and wellness applications, which are not falling within the scope of Regulations (EU) 2017/745 and […] [AI act COM/2021/206 final] should therefore be established at Union level, similar to the European database on medical devices (Eudamed) established by Regulation (EU) 2017/745.

The objectives of the EU database of interoperable EHR systems and wellness applications should be to enhance overall transparency, to avoid multiple reporting requirements and to streamline and facilitate the flow of information. For medical devices and AI systems, the registration should be maintained under the existing databases established respectively under Regulations (EU) 2017/745 and […] [AI act COM/2021/206 final], but the compliance with interoperability requirements should be indicated when claimed by manufacturers, to provide information to procurers.


(37) For the secondary use of the clinical data for research, innovation, policy making, regulatory purposes, patient safety or the treatment of other natural persons, the possibilities offered by Regulation (EU) 2016/679 for a Union law should be used as a basis and rules and mechanisms and providing suitable and specific measures to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the natural persons. This Regulation provides the legal basis in accordance with Articles 9(2) (g), (h), (i) and (j) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 for the secondary use of health data, establishing the safeguards for processing, in terms of lawful purposes, trusted governance for providing access to health data (through health data access bodies) and processing in a secure environment, as well as modalities for data processing, set out in the data permit.

At the same time, the data applicant should demonstrate a legal basis pursuant to Article 6 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, based on which they could request access to data pursuant to this Regulation and should fulfil the conditions set out in Chapter IV. More specifically: for processing of electronic health data held by the data holder pursuant to this Regulation, this Regulation creates the legal obligation in the sense of Article 6(1) point (c) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 for disclosing the data by the data holder to health data access bodies, while the legal basis for the purpose of the initial processing (e.g. delivery of care) is unaffected. This Regulation also meets the conditions for such processing pursuant to Articles 9(2) (h),(i),(j) of the Regulation (EU) 2016/679.

This Regulation assigns tasks in the public interest to the health data access bodies (running the secure processing environment, processing data before they are used, etc.) in the sense of Article 6(1)(e) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 to the health data access bodies, and meets the requirements of Article 9(2)(h),(i),(j) of the Regulation (EU) 2016/679. Therefore, in this case, this Regulation provides the legal basis under Article 6 and meets the requirements of Article 9 of that Regulation on the conditions under which electronic health data can be processed. In the case where the user has access to electronic health data (for secondary use of data for one of the purposes defined in this Regulation), the data user should demonstrate its legal basis pursuant to Articles 6(1), points (e) or (f), of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and explain the specific legal basis on which it relies as part of the application for access to electronic health data pursuant to this Regulation: on the basis of the applicable legislation, where the legal basis under Regulation (EU) 2016/679 is Article 6(1), point (e), or on Article 6(1), point (f), of Regulation (EU) 2016/679.

If the user relies upon a legal basis offered by Article 6(1), point (e), it should make reference to another EU or national law, different from this Regulation, mandating the user to process personal health data for the compliance of its tasks. If the lawful ground for processing by the user is Article 6(1), point (f), of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, in this case it is this Regulation that provides the safeguards. In this context, the data permits issued by the health data access bodies are an administrative decision defining the conditions for the access to the data.


(38) In the context of the EHDS, the electronic health data already exists and is being collected by healthcare providers, professional associations, public institutions, regulators, researchers, insurers etc. in the course of their activities. Some categories of data are collected primarily for the provisions of healthcare (e.g. electronic health records, genetic data, claims data, etc.), others are collected also for other purposes such as research, statistics, patient safety, regulatory activities or policy making (e.g. disease registries, policy making registries, registries concerning the side effects of medicinal products or medical devices, etc.).

For instance, European databases that facilitate data (re)use are available in some areas, such as cancer (European Cancer Information System) or rare diseases (European Platform on Rare Disease Registration, ERN registries, etc.). These data should also be made available for secondary use. However, much of the existing health-related data is not made available for purposes other than that for which they were collected. This limits the ability of researchers, innovators, policy-makers, regulators and doctors to use those data for different purposes, including research, innovation, policy-making, regulatory purposes, patient safety or personalised medicine. In order to fully unleash the benefits of the secondary use of electronic health data, all data holders should contribute to this effort in making different categories of electronic health data they are holding available for secondary use.


(39) The categories of electronic health data that can be processed for secondary use should be broad and flexible enough to accommodate the evolving needs of data users, while remaining limited to data related to health or known to influence health. It can also include relevant data from the health system (electronic health records, claims data, disease registries, genomic data etc.), as well as data with an impact on health (for example consumption of different substances, homelessness, health insurance, minimum income, professional status, behaviour, including environmental factors (for example, pollution, radiation, use of certain chemical substances). They can also include person-generated data, such as data from medical devices, wellness applications or other wearables and digital health applications. The data user who benefits from access to datasets provided under this Regulation could enrich the data with various corrections, annotations and other improvements, for instance by supplementing missing or incomplete data, thus improving the accuracy, completeness or quality of data in the dataset.

To support the improvement of the original database and further use of the enriched dataset, the dataset with such improvements and a description of the changes should be made available free of charge to the original data holder. The data holder should make available the new dataset, unless it provides a justified notification against it to the health data access body, for instance in cases of low quality of the enrichment. Secondary use of non-personal electronic data should also be ensured. In particular, pathogen genomic data hold significant value for human health, as proven during the COVID-19 pandemic. Timely access to and sharing of such data has proven to be essential for the rapid development of detection tools, medical countermeasures and responses to public health threats. The greatest benefit from pathogen genomics effort will be achieved when public health and research processes share datasets and work mutually to inform and improve each other.


(40) The data holders can be public, non for profit or private health or care providers, public, non for profit and private organisations, associations or other entities, public and private entities that carry out research with regards to the health sector that process the categories of health and health related data mentioned above. In order to avoid a disproportionate burden on small entities, micro-enterprises are excluded from the obligation to make their data available for secondary use in the framework of EHDS.

The public or private entities often receive public funding, from national or Union funds to collect and process electronic health data for research, statistics (official or not) or other similar purposes, including in area where the collection of such data is fragmented of difficult, such as rare diseases, cancer etc. Such data, collected and processed by data holders with the support of Union or national public funding, should be made available by data holders to health data access bodies, in order to maximise the impact of the public investment and support research, innovation, patient safety or policy making benefitting the society. In some Member States, private entities, including private healthcare providers and professional associations, play a pivotal role in the health sector.

The health data held by such providers should also be made available for secondary use. At the same time, data benefiting from specific legal protection such as intellectual property from medical device companies or pharmaceutical companies often enjoy copyright protection or similar types of protection. However, public authorities and regulators should have access to such data, for instance in the event of pandemics, to verify defective devices and protect human health.

In times of severe public health concerns (for example, PIP breast implants fraud) it appeared very difficult for public authorities to get access to such data to understand the causes and knowledge of manufacturer concerning the defects of some devices. The COVID-19 pandemic also revealed the difficulty for policy makers to have access to health data and other data related to health. Such data should be made available for public and regulatory activities, supporting public bodies to carry out their legal mandate, while complying with, where relevant and possible, the protection enjoyed by commercial data. Specific rules in relation to the secondary use of health data should be provided. Data altruism activities may be carried out by different entities, in the context of Regulation […] [Data Governance Act COM/2020/767 final] and taking into account the specificities of the health sector.