Health researchers, EU and associated countries, the European Commission and the European Parliament have all clearly stated that structural action to promote and strengthen health information is required. As many health information activities operate on a project basis, there is no guaranteed sustainability and integration of the work and achievements delivered by the projects. This became even clearer during the current pandemic. COVID-19 has put health systems at a test by impacting all aspects of European citizens' lives in terms of economic security, health systems, physical and mental health, well-being and premature mortality. Now more than ever, a structured European mechanism for COVID-19 exchange of population health information between countries is needed to facilitate multidisciplinary European research and underpin decision making.
The Population Health Information Research Infrastructure
PHIRI aims to generate the best available evidence for research on health and well-being of populations as impacted by COVID-19. PHIRI will allow for better coordinated efforts across national and European stakeholders to generate the best COVID-19 population health knowledge, by enhancing the identification of data sources, access, assessment and reuse of data on COVID-19 determinants, risk setting and outcomes. The project outlines the activities and resources needed to ultimately improve national health information systems and provide an integrated salutation at European level, in link with the European Health Data Space and COVID-19 data platform while ensuring FAIR (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse) and ELSI (Ethical, Legal, Social Issues) principles.
PHIRI aims to facilitate and support open, interconnected, and data-driven research through the sharing of cross-country COVID-19 population health information and exchange of best practices related to data collection, curation, processing, use and reuse of data following ELSI and FAIR principles. The objectives of the project are:
- To provide a Health Information Portal for COVID-19 with FAIR catalogues on health and health care data for structured information exchange across European countries.
- To provide structured exchange between countries on COVID-19 best practices and expertise.
- To promote interoperability and tackle health information inequalities.
In line with the work programme’s objectives, PHIRI aims to obtain wider and more efficient access to and use of existing infrastructures in Europe, and to avoid duplication of efforts within and between countries with regards to COVID-19 response. To achieve these objectives, the construction of an integrated, efficient research and innovation environment is necessary. As such, PHIRI will work towards full synergy with different types of actors and initiatives such as European research networks in the domain of population health, relevant national population data owners/ curators, national population health coordination entities, international data collectors and registries relevant for COVID-19 and future epidemics and European research infrastructures. This will come forth in the different work packages set up in this project.