Monday 25 March 2024 marked the official project launch of Dataspace4Health, a new open ecosystem designed to revolutionise secure and compliant health data exchange in the country and beyond.

According to the project partners, this innovative initiative aims to transform healthcare by leveraging the power of data while fully adhering to EU regulations and Gaia-X standards. It also aligns with the national and European digital strategies. This collaborative project is led by NTT DATA, Hôpitaux Robert Schuman (HRS), the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the University of Luxembourg, Agence eSanté and the Luxembourg National Data Service (LNDS), and is co-financed by Luxembourg's Ministry of the Economy as part of the national Gaia-X strategy. 

The Dataspace4Health project is expected to bring several advances to Luxembourg's healthcare landscape. One of the key benefits, according to the partners, is enhanced patient care, which includes improved diagnoses and treatments, better understanding of diseases and effective preventive measures. Additionally, the platform aims to foster research and innovation by providing secure access to health data, enabling research that should ultimately lead to improved healthcare outcomes. The platform is also expected to help build a connected ecosystem by establishing a secure and efficient layer for data sharing across institutions, fostering collaboration and advancements.

The project is motivated by the need for a new approach to health data sharing that respects the GDPR and patients' rights. The project partners added that currently, health data is often siloed, fragmented and underutilised, which limits the potential for innovation and research. The project will explore how to use Gaia-X as a European framework for data spaces that ensures data protection, security and interoperability. It will also demonstrate the benefits of data-driven innovation and artificial intelligence (AI) for healthcare and research, such as improving diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases, enhancing patient outcomes and quality of life, and advancing scientific knowledge and discovery.

The Dataspace4Health project has several key highlights, according to the partners. Firstly, it is a Gaia-X Lighthouse candidate in healthcare for Europe, setting the standard for secure and compliant health data exchange across the continent. A concept fully supporting the goals of the international precision health initiative Clinnova, coordinated by LIH. Secondly, the platform is a collaborative effort led by a consortium of domain and industry leaders and open to onboard additional members. Thirdly, it will be exploring and unlocking new medical treatments through data and AI. Lastly, the built ecosystem is use-case driven and has been validated through initial use cases in diabetes and oncology, paving the way for future applications in other healthcare sectors.

Diabetes affects over half a billion people globally, and this number is projected to increase to 783 million by 2045. Diabetes is not a uniform disease (there are type 1, type 2…), causing different complications that need individualized care. AI is seen as a potential technology to prevent them. A decision support system based on AI that can prevent diabetes complications might be a key step in the treatment of Diabetes. In one use-case, that reliable decision support system uses thousands of anonymised patient records linked to a Digital Twin of patients from LIH to provide personalised treatment. Use-cases will focus on illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. The project will also pay attention to the legal foundation and use European Regulation to address health data sharing in Luxembourg.

Dataspace4Health represents a multi-million investment in the future of healthcare in Luxembourg. 

Olivier Posty, Managing Director at NTT Ltd Luxembourg, shared the vision behind this initiative: "Dataspace4Health represents a significant stride in our mission towards digital transformation in healthcare. Our aim is to build a healthcare ecosystem that is more connected, secure and efficient. With this open platform, we're not only leveraging our global technological expertise but also integrating our deep understanding of local needs."

Dr Marc Berna, CEO of HRS, emphasised the significance of the collaboration: "The Dataspace4Health project represents a pivotal moment for healthcare in Luxembourg. We see this initiative as a crucial step towards realising our vision of a digitally transformed healthcare system."

Commenting on the research opportunities, Prof. Yves Le Traon, Director of the University of Luxembourg's Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), said: "Our role is to drive the AI component of this project, developing new algorithms for medical research, thus opening new frontiers in healthcare innovation." Prof. Dr Ulf Nehrbass, CEO at LIH, added: "At LIH, we focus on translational research to support improving healthcare outcomes.” 

For his part, Bert Verdonck, CEO at LNDS, elaborated on the transformative nature of the project: "Dataspace4Health allows us to bring the data space concepts to Luxembourg and to pioneer its application in the health domain, to advance the capabilities of clinicians and to the benefit of their patients." Ian Tewes, General Director at Agence eSanté, added: "The Dataspace4Health project reinforces the role of Agence eSanté as technological third party in the healthcare sector. At the Agence, we are deeply involved in facilitating this collaboration."

Ralf Hustadt, Gaia-X National Coordinator for Luxembourg, concluded: "Health is perhaps the hardest challenge to address on the European scene. It involves working together with different stakeholders and meeting high standards for security and compliance. That's why I'm very pleased that the consortium members of Dataspace4Health joined forces and approached this issue."