The cross-border sharing of health data has so far been project-based and there are no legal bases or common practices for the secondary use of health data in Europe. A lack of clarity and differing interpretations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means that health data is being underused in research and decision-making.
The primary use of health data is the use of health information, such as patient records, to treat a person. The secondary use of health data means using health data for purposes other than the primary reason for which they were originally collected. The secondary use can be, for example, research, decision-making, development and innovation, and education.
The benefits of the secondary use of health data include providing better healthcare services and personalised care for people, and thereby saving lives, increased business opportunities for companies and cost savings for societies.