Health Data: Article 29 WP Working Document: e-health records


At a time when member states are seeking to centralise electronic health record systems, the Article 29 Working Party recently issued a Working Document addressing the key issues to be considered by states when processing electronic health records. Karin Retzer, Of Counsel, at the Brussels office of Morrison & Foerster LLP examines the Document.

The application of European Union data protection law presents particular challenges in the context of

electronic health records. At a time when governments, health care professionals and service providers move

to centralize and outsource electronic health records systems for cost efficiency and better health treatment

due to improved access to patient records, several national data protection authorities have raised concerns

regarding the confidentiality and safety of such data.

The recent 'Working Document on the processing of personal data relating to health in electronic health records' ('Working Document') by the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party ('Working Party') seeks to harmonize patients' rights with respect to health records across the EU, and sets forth recommendations on appropriate safeguards.[fn1] Unfortunately, the Working Document calls for Member State legislation, frowning on existing schemes, while leaving it for health care professionals and providers of information technology, electronic records management and other services to navigate through a minefield of complex and conflicting obligations.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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