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How developed is eHealth in the European Union? Is there a big gap between the EU and the Eastern partner countries?
The EU faces many of the same general health challenges seen in Eastern partner countries, such as an ageing population, leading to a similar need to optimise and modernise healthcare services.
The European Commission has established the Digital Single Market as one of its main priorities and digital health care services are part of this strategy. The EU has already adopted legislation on medical equipment, health data protection and sharing, digital identification and secondary use of data, which creates a great environment for EU eHealth services. Many EU countries have been quick to adopt eHealth strategies, which led to political commitment and an accelerated and well-orchestrated development of eHealth services. At the same time, Eastern partner countries have advanced through a plethora of individual, less harmonised eHealth projects. Moreover, the EU has implemented the myHealth@EU initiative. This provides ePrescription and Patient Summary cross-border health services between individual Member States, with more eHealth services to come. The trend now in the EU is to move towards opening up health data to secondary use, thus preparing the eHealth infrastructure for Artificial Intelligence, genomic data analysis and personalised medicine. At the EU level this is to be achieved by the HealthData@EU initiative.