gms | German Medical Science

MAINZ//2011: 56. GMDS-Jahrestagung und 6. DGEpi-Jahrestagung

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie e. V.

26. - 29.09.2011 in Mainz

EU data protection in health care and eHealth environments

Meeting Abstract

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  • Jürgen Hohmann - Inspection générale de la sécurité sociale, Luxembourg

Mainz//2011. 56. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 6. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi). Mainz, 26.-29.09.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gmds543

doi: 10.3205/11gmds543, urn:nbn:de:0183-11gmds5430

Published: September 20, 2011

© 2011 Hohmann.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: With the development of communication technologies, new forms of collection storage and exchange of information have also gained importance in the field of health care. Additional to the individual health file being kept by each health professional or ward we will find commonly used electronic health records (EHR) provided by the interdisciplinary and intersectoral health staff that takes care of a given patient. The processing of health data among different health care professionals, its secondary use for statistical and research purposes, and even transfers to different sites worldwide have become a matter of course. Unsurprisingly, privacy today has become one of the fundamental issues in health care. Being considered as sensitive, personal health data enjoy the highest level of protection, which by various international conventions is furthermore enshrined as fundamental human right.

Method: The presentation exemplifies the scope and relevance of the European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC with regard to the field of health care as well as medical and statistical research. The presentation further provides an analysis of the impact of eHealth on the current data protection legislation. Overall, the non-harmonized transposition of the Directive has led to high dissatisfaction about the cumbersome obstacles put on cross-border data exchange.

Results and discussion: The new information and communication technologies in health care make the specific requirement of what is meant by informed IT-consent, still the pivotal issue to legitimize the exceptional processing, subject to ongoing disputes. They further nourish the issue of whether the regulatory data protection framework can still keep pace. In view of the announced revision of the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, the European Commission envisages to simplify the current system of notification and to promote a data protection at highest technical standard, also known as “privacy by design” (COM (2010) 609). Thus, in the future, a more pragmatic guidance will bring specific data protection settings for the processing of personal health data in line internationally, and make the application of the respective law more predictable. It also requires new technical solutions for the ex-post detection of data protection infringement as well as effective security break operations in case of non-compliance.


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