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Public Health (16-12-2016)

Big Data Study outlines policy recommendations in 10 areas

A Study on Big Data in Public Health, Telemedicine and Healthcare, financed by the Commission's Health Programme, has been published today.

It identifies examples of the use of Big Data in Health, and puts forward recommendations covering 10 relevant fields: awareness raising, education and training, data sources, open data and data sharing, applications and purposes, data analysis, governance of data access and use, standards, funding and financial resources, and legal and privacy aspects.

In the context of this study, "big data in health" refers to large routinely or automatically collected datasets, which are electronically captured and stored. Using Big Data in health has many potential benefits. It may contribute to, for example, increasing the effectiveness and quality of treatments available for patients, widening possibilities for disease prevention by identifying risk factors at population, subpopulation, and individual levels, improving pharmacovigilance and patient safety, and reducing inefficiency and waste.

The study's 10 recommendations are aimed at maximising opportunities Big Data can bring to public health in the EU - to improve the health of individual patients as well as the  performance of Member States' health systems. All recommendations are underpinned by principles such as the need to uphold ethical standards and the privacy or safety of citizens, and to include stakeholders - such as patient advocacy groups, when implementing them.

The recommendations outlined in this study will feed into the Commission's actions to develop a Big Data value chain in the context of the European Digital Market Strategy.