European legislation is helping to speed up development of healthcare IT infrastructure, whilst maintaining patient data privacy and security across the continent, researchers at Frost and Sullivan argue.

According to research by the firm, the European Directive 95/46/EC (protection of personal data) ‘is recognised and accepted as the world’s highest privacy standard.’

The directive is aiding European Commission members by ensuring that IT standards adopted meet the strict patient data standards stipulated in the directive.

Research analyst, S.M. Vinod, told E-Health Europe: “The current scenario persisting is that the healthcare IT vendors have started giving in strong focus for standards. Most of the countries in Europe have started following the HL7. This standard was initially adopted all over the United States and over the years, awareness has been created throughout the European nations.

“The European legislation calls for a stable IT Infrastructure and also stresses on the patient data safety. Hence, the legislation that necessitates the healthcare IT infrastructure acts as a major driver. It emphasises the need for stable IT infrastructure and for improved patient data.”

The research is presented in a new analysis as part of the Healthcare and Life Sciences IT Growth Partnership, titled Patient Data Safety in Healthcare Industry in Europe.

The report warns that these promising trends, concerns related to data protection and IT security together with the issue of achieving compatibility of varied data formats pose major challenges to patient data safety in Europe. 

Vinod told EHE: “Each organisational department stores data in different formats. This is the scenario in most of the places where electronic modes of data storage is prevalent. These incompatible data formats within departments will pose a great challenge until the process of interoperability is initiated. It will lead to a situation where all the data has to be compiled into a pool, which leads to very high chances of the data getting corrupt.”

The report calls for organisations to look at standardising data formats and ensuring that only authorised individuals have access to patient data.

“Partnering with local organisations will be critical to resolving significant issues related to patient data safety,” it says.

Frost and Sullivan say that patient data safety is one of the most critical issues faced by the European healthcare information technology industry. Data privacy and security has always been a major issue of concern.

This has resulted in a strong emphasis on patient data safety throughout Europe. The rapid development of information and communication technology is a key factor that threatens the privacy of data and this is a concern for individuals and the society at large.


The European Directive 95/46/EC (protection of personal data)