Digital Health Innovation In Europe

In recent years the EU has begun to dedicate more and more resources to advancing its digital health sector. The EU believes it can become one of, if not the leader of digital health. However, one major roadblock will make that goal hard to reach.


Despite the EU being one of the largest economies in the world and possessing very talented individuals, a significant number of the innovations and start-ups that begin in the EU decide to leave. These innovations and start-ups leave the EU because they wish to be somewhere where it is easier to access reliable data at scale. 


However, the EU has begun to see some promising progress in recent years with healthcare.

In 2020 and 2021 the Future Unicorn award winners were both AI-healthcare scale-ups. For those who do not know, the Future Unicorn award is given to companies that have the potential to become future European tech giants. (A very prestigious award) Both of these companies have seen recent success with the most recent winner, Green scale-up Circulor, raising over 25 million USD.

And it’s not just in AI where the EU has seen success and growth but also in other forms of digital health. 

In Finland, there is a one-of-a-kind national permit authority for all secondary use of health and social data. This service is called Fin Data, its main purpose is to improve the security of networks that store health and social data, and it enables more efficient utilization of all these materials between practices. 

EFPIA has also committed to helping the EU digital health revolution grow by partnering with all healthcare players to help support the transformation of the EU’s healthcare to benefit both the patients and the growth of digital healthcare systems. EFPIA wants to standardize the quality of data and help reimagine how digital technologies in healthcare can empower patients.

Europe also has one of the fastest-growing R&D sectors in the world. Their medical technology, pharmaceuticals, digital communication, and biotechnology have begun to grow at a rapid rate. Much of this growth can be attributed to the pandemic which sparked the need for more digital communication within the healthcare network.


The EU is also heavily focused on its future goals in digital health. In their 10-year plan, they have the goal of becoming one of the leaders in digital health. They also hope by 2030 to give all their citizen secure access to their health records and it wants all of the EU to have a central health data authority. Europe also wants to have at least 2.5% of national and regional health budgets to be dedicated to digital health. 

So what does Europe need to do to succeed in achieving these goals?

According to the paper, “A Digital Health Decade”, there are three conditions that must be met for Europe to succeed in creating promising health technologies which could help Europe take the lead in digital health. These conditions are channeling investment, promoting health data flows, and enabling health technologies to be adopted at scale.