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Data matters - no service integration without data integration: a transnational learning exercise


Ingo Meyer

PMV Research Group, University of Cologne, DE
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"Data matters - no service integration without data integration: a transnational learning exercise

Integrated, value-based care can only be delivered on the basis of sound data. This holds true for delivery both on the political and governance level as well as on the individual and service level. The Data Matters twinning project brings together four players from three member states (Spain, Estonia and Germany) that all have done important steps in relation to integrating data and making it useful for care improvement, but who at the same time see a need to learn from each other and improve upon what they are already doing. The twinning is funded and supported through the European Commission's DigitalHealthEurope initiative [1].

Description and aims
The city of Badalona in Spain operates a highly advanced pooled data system along with analytical tools and methods relying heavily on artificial intelligence and deep learning. At the same time, the team operating this system is looking for ways to expand the scope of data included, to improve the analysis of linked data and find new ways to share data by means of secure infrastructures. Estonia is establishing a highly integrated data system, linking data from health and social care (on national and municipal level), education, social welfare, unemployment and official statistics. This new integrated system requires new methodological knowledge on data linkage as well as on effective means of analysis. The Cologne Care Research Network [2] established an integrated database to support care service provision to citizens as well as care policy making and research. They are now looking for ways to integrate data from further sectors and carrying out more in-depth analyses geared towards decision support. The twinning project consists of three learning hubs on data infrastructure, data integration and data analysis where all partners both teach and learn based on their own profiles and demand. The project began in October 2019 and will end in May 2020.

With the financial support of DigitalHealthEurope, stakeholders from policy, care provision and research from each region are not only enabled to receive hands-on impressions of what the other regions are doing that can directly benefit their own activities. Each learning hub will also produce an output for use by the wider data integration community:
1) Report on practice examples for a suitable data infrastructure
2) Common set of data sources and data types relevant to support integrated, value-based care
3) Collection of approaches for analysis of linked data, including AI-based methods.

Conclusions and discussion
All three regions have developed sustainability plans on how the outcomes of the twinning will be carried over into day-to-day practice. Beyond these three regions, the approach can be a template for others as well, to look beyond the silos that are the individual member states and that often prevent a serious exchange of ideas across borders. The EU's support is highly appreciated. At the same time, the actual financial costs are not high enough to consider them a large barrier for setting up own twinning activities.


How to Cite: Meyer I. Data matters - no service integration without data integration: a transnational learning exercise. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2021;21(S1):28. DOI:
Published on 01 Sep 2021.