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A new framework for European Health Data: ​Datrix is collaborating with University Hospital Cologne

Matteo Bregonzio

Over the last years, Datrix Group and its companies have been involved in different EU funded Research and Development Projects dedicated to Healthcare and Biomedical innovation in the context of prevention, diagnostics and treatment, and precision medicine.

The Role of AI and Data Management for Healthcare

The advance in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is unlocking the potential of personalised medicine. Personalised medicine refers to a data-driven approach designed to optimise therapeutic efficiency for particular groups of patients sharing common characteristics such as genetic variations or pathological symptoms. A key aspect involves the ability to lawfully collect and manage healthcare data from multiple medical centres (at national and international scale) and analyse them via AI in a timely fashion. This  enables us to uncover insights useful to support medical professionals in improving healthcare outcomes minimising  patient hospitalisation.

Furthermore, in contexts such as rare diseases where data is limited, being able to explore, compare and analyse patient’s data from multiple hospitals does open vast opportunities.

Despite multiple studies demonstrating the potential of AI-driven medicine (personalised medicine), currently EU hospitals are not adopting it at scale since it is particularly complex.

In fact, AI-driven medicine requires large sets of data to train accurate models, however patient data aggregation or sharing  across hospitals and national borders is extremely complex and frequently unavailable due to ethical, legal, and privacy barriers. 

In other words, EU hospitals don’t have the multidisciplinary skills required to overcome those barriers.

The European Health Data Space: a trustworthy ecosystem to share 

The European Health Data Space was in fact created to provide a trustworthy setting for secure access to and processing of a wide range of healthcare data. This  ecosystem consists of rules, common standards and practices, infrastructures and a governance framework.

The aim is to support individuals to take control of their own healthcare data for better healthcare delivery, better research, innovation and policy making and also to enable the EU to make full use of the potential offered by a safe and secure exchange, use and reuse of health data. 

In order to further develop this framework, Datrix is now closely collaborating with the Institute for Biomedical Informatics of the University Hospital Cologne in studying innovative approaches to securely exchange and reuse patient’s health data in a EU compliant fashion. 

A new Platform to make a better use of available data 

Both institutions have been promoting PADME, a Platform for Analytics and Distributed Machine Learning for Enterprises (https://padme-analytics.de/) that is an implementation of the so-called “Personal Health Train” paradigm that lawfully enables health data sharing across institutional borders. 

Contrary to traditional approaches, PADME leverages a federated learning approach to bring tasks (i.e. training of AI models) to the data, while data instances remain in their original location. This innovative concept provides a solid, trustworthy and efficient set-up for AI-driven medicine research and it paves the way toward a collaborative European health data space.

Datrix strongly believes in Personal Health Train capabilities since it represents an essential building block within the European Health Data Space design. Personal Health Train represents a huge opportunity for the EU healthcare ecosystem, not only because it enables data sharing across hospitals and AI-driven medicine research, but also the sharing of know-how, protocols, best-practices and tools.