About

SHiELD will unlock the value of health data to European citizens and businesses by overcoming security and regulatory challenges that today prevent this data being exchanged with those who need it. This will make it possible to provide better health care to mobile citizens across European borders, and facilitate legitimate commercial uses of health data.

SHiELD case studies will address cross border scenarios in which a citizen needs health care while in one Member State, and care givers need access to their health data from different Member States. SHiELD will also consider how commercial providers of lifestyle services or wearable sensors may be involved in such data exchanges. SHiELD will thereby also create opportunities for using health data to create such products and services addressing the common European market.

The exchange of health data between systems is already possible, but it rarely happens. One reason is concerns about the potential security risks in the resulting end-to-end system, especially if it includes or is connected to insecure mobile devices. Another is the problem of ensuring compliance with regulations especially if the end-toend system spans multiple jurisdictions or involves different types of systems (e.g. for health care and lifestyle applications). Overcoming these barriers is the specific focus for SHiELD.

The creation of the European Union introduced the possibility of free movement for the people across European borders. However, the new challenges we are facing now are to provide adequate cross-border health assistance and services to those people who move across Europe and need to have access to their health data when abroad. For example, people with chronic disease would benefit if medical staff treating them have access to relevant medical data stored and controlled by health services in other countries where they have lived or been treated. Another example is being able to share e-prescriptions, allowing people to purchase prescription medication from pharmacies abroad. This was one of the main driving scenarios supported in the EC funded epSOS project1, to devise interoperability standards allowing data exchange between health care systems across borders.

The potential value of health data is huge, both in traditional health sectors (e.g. for medical research such as drug design) and in new sectors, such as personalised health and lifestyle management services based on wearable devices. Recent estimates indicate that person’s health data is 50 times more valuable than their financial data. The well-known venture capitalist Sherry Coutu CBE predicts the world’s first trillion dollar company will be in Big Data, using health data from the UK (which has a large volume of homogeneous data within the NHS) to analyse how patients get diseases2. To unlock this value, it would be necessary to exchange data between health care systems and other stakeholders such as researchers or entrepreneurial health and lifestyle businesses. This is also a driver for secure and safe exchange of health data, in this case between health care and commercial users.