Health is considered as a precondition for economic prosperity as it has an influence on economic outcomes in terms of productivity, labour supply, human capital and public spending. Health issues are an integral part of many EU policies, e.g. in the social investment package of the European Commission investment in health was set as a priority.

In Horizon 2020, the EU research funding programme for the years 2014-2020, Health research is under Tackling Societal challenges pillar, one of the three major pillars. The specific objective of Health, demographic change and well-being is to improve the lifelong health and well-being of all by supporting research and innovation in response to this challenge. Ageing, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, health care and health promotion are some of the key areas for research under this challenge. Approximately 8 billion euro of total 80 billion euro budget for Horizon 2020 is suggested for Health research.

The Independent Expert Group on the Future of European Public Health Research addressed the importance of the international dimension of public health research for the EU. The Expert Group noted that in Horizon 2020, bilateral or multilateral cooperation with other regions of the world should be encouraged in particular with developing countries in the field of disease prevention. A similar theme was raised in U.S.-EU Joint Consultative Group Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation in February 2013.  In the meeting, both sides discussed joining forces to develop new methods to prevent and treat diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and working together to strengthen science capacity in developing regions of the world.

eHealth is one of the areas in health research in which the EU and the USA already have a cooperation agreement. The European Commission's Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have agreed on a roadmap (version updated to November 2015) to strengthen transatlantic cooperation in eHealth and Health information technologies (IT).

Three areas were identified as having immediate importance and potential:

  1. International interoperability of Electronic Health Records information, to include semantic interoperability, syntactic interoperability, patient and healthcare provider mediated data exchange (including identification, privacy and security issues surrounding exchange of health data).
    In this area, the “Trillium Bridge” Project (financed by the 7th Framework Programme) led to a successful comparison of patient summary specifications across EU and US. The cooperation is continuing under Horizon 2020: the Work Programme 2016-2017 allocated 1 million euro (SC1-HCO-14-2016) with the aim to accelerate the establishment of interoperability standards in eHealth and of secure, seamless communication of health related data.
  2. Cooperation around the shared challenges related to eHealth/health IT workforce and eHealth proficiencies. The first stage in this area was completed in May 2015 and now it is possible identify and address competency and knowledge deficiencies among staff. In the next phase, the development of a global workforce professionally prepared to deploy eHealth/Health IT systems will be promoted.
  3. Supporting Transatlantic eHealth/Health Innovation Ecosystems. This is a new field of cooperation respect to the first Roadmap version and it has been created in response to stakeholders consultations about the Roadmap relevance to their needs.