Tag Archive for: eCAN

The European Public Health Conference (EPH) 2023 has provided an opportunity to bring together some of the eCAN Work Package (WP) leaders. In particular, WP2 (Communication) and WP4 (Sustainability) have presented posters reflecting on the progress of the Joint Action, each focusing on their respective areas. 

On the one hand, Elisa Piñón and Edgar Hans from WP2, led by the Institut Català d’Oncologia (ICO), have displayed their poster entitled “Bringing an EU Joint Action to TikTok: the case of eCAN“. The banner explains the communication team’s decision to use this social network, among others, to communicate the progress and outcomes of the European project. It also provides some preliminary results on the performance of TikTok in terms of followers, posts and engagement. 

On the other hand, Claudia Habl, a member of WP4 led by Gesundheit Österreich GmbH (GÖG), also presented her team’s poster entitled “JA eCAN roadmap towards a sustainable implementation of eHealth initiatives in cancer care. It describes the process of collecting information on EU Member States through expert-validated national factsheets, which will lead to map eHealth and cancer care policies across Europe. 

TikTok as a tool for science communication 

Elisa Piñón, lead author of the WP2 poster, argues that “so far, TikTok has shown higher engagement rates than other audio-visual social media, such as Instagram and YouTube, despite having lower number of posts and followers”. 

European Public Health Conference poster of Work Package 2

European Public Health Conference poster of Work Package 2

“It is not common for European projects to choose TikTok as one of their outreach tools”, says Edgar Hans, also author of the WP2 poster. “However, there are good examples of science communication on this platform, it allows us to reach different audiences and promote our creativity when talking about eCAN. We believe it is worth a try”, he concludes. 

According to the authors of the poster, the Chinese social network has several strengths. These include the opportunity to innovate in the communication of European health projects, with unexplored and attractive formats, or a greater likelihood of achieving a large reach and impact in a short time. 

Showcasing eHealth policies and initiatives across Europe 

The WP4 poster also includes contributions from members of WP1 (Coordination) and WP2. By collecting data from EU/EEA Member States, the Sustainability WP aims to provide an overview of European eHealth policies and initiatives with a focus on cancer. The project website will display the validated information in a dashboard with maps and indicators during next year. 

European Public Health Conference poster of Work Package 4

European Public Health Conference poster of Work Package 4

Looking in detail at the data collected so far, preliminary results show a wide variation in the use of telemedicine in cancer care, despite the fact that most EU countries have a national eHealth strategy in place. The results will be further analysed in practical cases and situations, including telerehabilitation and psychosocial support in breast and head & neck cancer treatment. 

EPH’s flagship theme, One Health 

Since 1992, the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) has organised the EPH Conference, the biggest annual public health event in Europe bringing together research, practice, policy and education. The 16th edition, that has been held in Dublin between the 8th and the 11th of November with more than 2,450 delegates worldwide, has addressed diverse topics related to the concept One Health.

This term, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), refers to an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It recognises that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.  

The theme of the forthcoming 17th European Public Health Conference 2024, to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, will be “Sailing the Waves of European Public Health: Exploring a Sea of Innovation”. 


E P Hermida, E Hans Cano, S Ela Aguilar, T Ferro, Bringing an EU Joint Action to TikTok: the case of eCANEuropean Journal of Public Health, Volume 33, Issue Supplement_2, October 2023, ckad160.1205 

C Habl, K Habimana, J Weiss, T Schmitt, E Hans Cano, E P Hermida, JA eCAN roadmap towards a sustainable implementation of eHealth initiatives in cancer careEuropean Journal of Public Health, Volume 33, Issue Supplement_2, October 2023, ckad160.1205 

Some participants of the second eCAN Steering Committee Meeting

The Steering Committee meeting of eCAN has been held today, May 11th, in a virtual format and with more than forty participants from beneficiary and affiliated entities. The meeting has served for the different Work Packages to present the progress achieved on the first quarter of 2023 and share their upcoming assignments. 

The reunion has been welcomed by Matthias Schuppe, responsible for preparing DG SANTE’s work on the ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan’, Maren Hunds, member from the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA), Dheepa Rajan from the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and Caroline Berchet, health economist at the OECD Health Division. The four professionals have spoken at the beginning of the meeting, stressing the importance of the JA and the possibility of establishing synergies in the near future with other entities and European initiatives. 

While all the Work Packages were able to share their progress, the bulk of this Steering Committee focused on the two pilots that eCAN is developing in teleconsultation and telemonitoring, which should be launched on June. 

eCAN’s first achievements 

Following the agenda, OECD and WHO/OBS, as eCAN observers, highlighted their supporting role to the overall project’s progress. The JA has been selected as example of project linked to quality of life in an exhibition of European projects organised by DG SANTE within the framework of the European Week Against Cancer (EWAC). 

WP8’s presentation has been focused on stakeholders’ identification and engagement. The colleagues from Greece have organised and taught four workshops for eCAN participants between April and May. As for the upcoming tasks, WP8 will soon conduct a gap analysis and assess the training needs of patients, caregivers, and clinical experts. They will also develop an educational framework and training materials. 

Andrea Pace, from the IRCCS Regina Elena Cancer Institute (IFO-IRE) has conducted both presentations of Teleconsultation (WP5) and Legal, ethical framework and cybersecurity (WP6), focused on the initial development of the JA’s pilots. 

Halfway through the Steering Committee, the Telemonitoring team (WP7) has also given some insight into its work until now. This includes partially completing the landscape of remote surveillance of patients and the ongoing development of the telemonitoring system to start pilots testing. In fact, they show several mock-ups of the application that will be used to monitor patients participating in the study. 

Progress on sustainability, evaluation and communication 

The past and following months have also been addressed by the entities belonging to Austria, Poland and Spain, and they have discussed the risks, gaps and opportunities that they expect to experience in the upcoming weeks.  

The Sustainability Work Package (WP4) has finalised all preparations on the Country Factsheets, documents that compile information on different territories’ preparedness, legislation and initiatives on cancer and digital health. They have been verifying the available data over the past months and country factsheets will soon be sent for external validation. 

The team responsible for the Evaluation (WP3) is about to finalize the second progress report and is preparing the cost and consequence analysis framework together with the protocol for the SWOT analysis. Both milestones are scheduled for July 2023. 

Finally, the Communication team (WP2) has presented their campaign for the European Week Against Cancer (EWAC) and showed the recent content published on the website (interviews, news, newsletters…) and social media, with TikTok emerging as one of the most prominent social networks for eCAN. The Spanish team has already submitted two deliverables, the most recent one being the updated version of the Communication and Dissemination Plan. The main ahead tasks for the communication team include preparing the first Annual Report and start organising the project’s final conference. 

Towards the first half of the Joint Action

The Joint Action “Strengthening eHealth including telemedicine and remote monitoring for health care systems for cancer prevention and care”, launched in September 2022, is approaching its first year. 

The summer months will be crucial for its progress and evolution, as many important milestones will be reached, with the start of the pilots being the most important one. At the same time, the first anniversary of eCAN will also serve to take stock of what has been achieved so far and to preview the outcomes that this European initiative could provide. Such progress will be monitored and explained in more detail at the next Steering Committees. 

Wordcloud of the main topics discussed during the last eCAN workshops by AUTH

The third and fourth workshops of eCAN Work Package 8 have brought together 14 and 23 participants, respectively. On the one hand, participants have been asked to broaden the eCAN ecosystem beyond the European scale and to consider local, regional or national approaches when spreading the word about the Joint Action.  

On the other hand, eCAN partners have engaged in an open dialogue to understand the needs of stakeholders (patients, carers, clinicians) for the forthcoming piloting phase, identifying the needs across various Work Packages, and devising effective strategies for implementing educational materials. The ultimate objective was to equip participants with the necessary tools to effectively address these needs. 

Beyond and within the EU  

“We need to expand our work, not only for dissemination purposes, but also to extend our network with partners and countries that are not part of eCAN, such as Germany. We are trying to improve telemonitoring and teleconsultation across Europe, so we need them to collaborate and listen to us to engage at another level” said Despoina Mantziari, from the Laboratory of Medical Physics and Digital Innovation at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), organiser of the meetings.   

This outreach would introduce eCAN to communities outside its ecosystem and, through synergies and collaborations, could capitalise on the knowledge produced by the Joint Action Work Packages and foster interactions with others for future collaborations (experience sharing, policy development opportunities…).  

Empowerment for a better eHealth 

A central theme that resonated throughout the last workshop has been the concept of patient empowerment. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as a process that grants individuals greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health. This principle is a cornerstone of global health and social care strategies. 

Mantziari further elucidated the essential components encompassed within this concept. These components include respecting the unique needs, preferences, and autonomy of patients, ensuring access to appropriate and personalized treatments, and actively involving patients in decisions related to their health. Patient empowerment also entails facilitating access to safe, high-quality services and support, as well as providing reliable, relevant, and comprehensible health information. Involving patients in health policy development is also essential to ensure that services are designed with patient-centricity at the core. 

Roadmap for Stakeholder Engagement 

With the conclusion of the workshops, the members of Work Package 8 now face several important tasks. Their immediate focus is to conduct a preliminary gap analysis. This will be followed by a thorough assessment of the training needs of patients, caregivers, and clinical experts. Additionally, a comprehensive framework of educational activities and training materials will be developed for both patients and caregivers/clinical experts.  

The completion of these assignments will pave the way for a more robust stakeholder engagement strategy, fostering collaboration, and enabling eCAN to advance its mission of improving eHealth practices.  

The second workshop from eCAN’s Work Package 8 has brought together a total of 26 participants interested in how to involve policymakers in a research project like this Joint Action. In particular, the aim of this second online gathering was to share practical strategies for coordinating and implementing effective recruitment and engagement of policymakers. 

As in the previous workshop, Despoina Mantziari, from the Laboratory of Medical Physics and Digital Innovation at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), organised and led the meeting. During her intervention, Mantziari stated that, when approaching this type of actors who belong to different entities and work at various scales, “an interdisciplinary strategy is necessary”. 

“It is important to remember that in projects such as eCAN we do not only work to achieve the objectives of the consortium, but we aim to expand our work and propose real solutions to be implemented in society”, said the WP8 member. 

Barriers to engage with policymakers 

Securing the commitment of policymakers is no easy task and there are certainly significant obstacles to overcome. These barriers relate to the policy-making process (lack of a culture of dialogue, primacy of political priorities, poor long-term policy planning, inflexible and non-transparent policy processes, etc.) and to the institutional set up (limited resources, weak incentives and limited capacity to engage in evidence-based policymaking). 

In the face of these some of these barriers, what project members can do is to draw up a skills map, identifying the context and scope of each policymaker, so that the approach to these actors is transparent and as clear as possible. The clearer the roadmap and the role they should play, the more willing policymakers will be to help, according to Mantziari. 

Two workshops ahead 

There are still two workshops scheduled in the calendar for eCAN participants. The first one is titled ‘Liaison with EU-wide networks: Spread the message across the EU’ and the last one ‘Empowerment Tips&Tricks: Rights and coping frames’. Both will offer a broader view on how to understand and approach stakeholders’ engagement. 

A total of 29 participants have joined the first eCAN’s internal workshop on improving stakeholders’ engagement in research projects. This event had the aim of sharing practical strategies for coordinating and performing effective patient and healthcare professionals’ recruitment and engagement, based on Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) principles and previous experience in working in Research and Innovation initiatives with cancer patients and healthcare workforce. 

The Lab of Medical Physics and Digital Innovation at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), one of the work package 8 members, organised and led the online workshop. The Lab’s research associate and eCAN member Despoina Mantziari has started presenting the preliminary results from the Stakeholders Mapping survey that WP8 developed in order to identify relevant stakeholders for this Joint Action. 

Preliminary survey’s results show different levels and types of involvement among stakeholders. WP8 has identified some strengths and barriers related to the formation of a sustainable and inclusive community of multiple stakeholders for the eCAN project. While policymakers and the scientific community are usually engaged in most parts of the process, citizens and healthcare professionals’ collaboration is not as frequent and active as it should be. 

In this regard, Mantziari has highlighted how important is to recruit citizens for testing and validating research activities. She has explained some of the key elements that professionals should keep in mind when it comes to engage patients. Open communication, transparency and being specific about the research needs and the patient’ role is essential to cultivate trust 

Since sixteen different countries participate in this Joint Action, participants need to consider the cultural and socio-economic situation of each territory. Diverse realities may affect the engagement level in different ways, therefore all tips and strategies for involving stakeholders should be adapted to the context in which they are developed. 

Next workshops 

Apart from patients’ involvement, Mantiziari remarked how important is to keep professionals motivated and engaged. Their background and expertise are crucial to build trust with patients and for the success of the project.  This workshop will be followed by three more sessions. Next 28th of April, the Lab will hold a workshop on ‘Collaboration with policymaking actors: How to maximise the impact of your work’. In that session, WP8 will explain the importance of getting policymakers involved in a research project such as eCAN.

Later on, the team will organise two more events: ‘Liaison with EU-wide networks: Spread the message across the EU’ and ‘Empowerment Tips&Tricks: Rights and coping frames’. Both will offer a broader view on how to understand and approach stakeholders’ engagement.

This 4th of February, World Cancer Day, the eCAN Joint Action joins the three-year campaign #CloseTheCareGap and advocates for providing access to health prevention and care all over the world. Within its frame of work, as a European research project, eCAN is committed to closing the current care gap among EU countries by strengthening eHealth in cancer.

According to the European Beating Cancer Plan, “a number of indicators show major differences in cancer prevention and care between and within Member States”. As well known, early detection through different means (such as screening) is the best way to increase the chances of beating cancer. However, access to these prevention programmes varies considerably among countries. For example, national cancer programmes’ coverage of the target population ranges from 6% to 90% for breast cancer screening. The inequalities in access to prevention programmes evidence there is much work to provide equal access to health prevention and care.

Such difficulty does not only affect screening access but the entire disease pathway. eCAN aims to contribute to the cancer control continuum by boosting preparedness among the cancer care workforce in the virtual consultation and monitoring, improving healthcare workforces’ response in light of pandemics and crises, enabling cross-border cooperation, and reducing cancer care inequalities between rural and urban areas. Counting with the support of technological tools will enable to close the care gap in terms of prevention, early-detection, timely treatment and recovering.

Taking action is essential to respond to near-future projections on cancer incidence. According to estimated data, 2.7 million cases were diagnosed in the EU in 2020, which is expected to grow by a fourth by 2035. This means that in only 12 years, over 10 million people in the EU will be diagnosed with cancer each year.

The sheer scale of these numbers shows the dimensions of the problem. That is why the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is a key pillar for the European healthcare systems, since it also guides the development of national strategies focused on precision health, early-detection and the creation of a comprehensive health data space.

Reimagining healthcare systems 

The 35 organisations involved in this Joint Action believe the sooner cancer is detected, the better the access to adequate treatment. Reimagining the healthcare system and harnessing the new digital tools at people’s disposal for developing new ways of receiving medical assistance and monitoring is the vision this joint action follows and will work until September 2024.

The use of these digital tools will play a key role in strengthening healthcare systems before possible pandemic outbreaks. COVID-19 has evidenced the need of telemedicine in order to not only preserve cancer control continuum, but to also help cancer patients’ mental health. According to a Dutch study, almost one in three breast cancer patients and survivors reported that their emotional functioning and mental health declined from pre-pandemic levels.



Bargon, Claudia, et al. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Patient-Reported Outcomes of Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors. NCI Cancer Spectrum, Volume 5, Issue 1. (2021)

OECD/European Union, Health at a Glance: Europe 2022: State of Health in the EU Cycle, OECD Publishing. (2020)

The First Steering Committee meeting offers a glimpse to eCAN's future

The Steering Committee meeting of the eCAN has been held today, January 30th, in a virtual format and with more than fifty participants belonging to beneficiary and affiliated entities. The meeting has served for the different work packages to present the progress achieved during the first five months of the Joint Action and share their planning until July 2023.  

In addition, the reunion has also given rise to some important announcements, such as the interest of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to establish possible synergies with eCAN. These would include knowledge exchange and dissemination related to cancer inequalities or stakeholders’ involvement, as well as the possibility of getting support to improve the sustainability of the European project. 

Apart from the OECD, members from the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) have also intervened at the beginning, expressing their support to achieve the objectives of the JA. 

The first stages of the JA 

Following the order of the agenda, the vertical work packages Teleconsultation (WP5), Legal, ethical framework and cybersecurity (WP6), Telemonitoring (WP7) and Stakeholder engagement (WP8) have been the first ones to present, with a quick review of the work carried out in the first months and the challenges faced related to the project pilots and the identification of interested parties. 

The following months have also been addressed by the entities belonging to Italy, Cyprus and Greece, where they have discussed the risks, gaps and opportunities that they expect to experience until the summer of 2023. Ultimately, each work package has pointed out the inputs needed from the rest of the eCAN participants during this period. 

In the second part of the meeting, the transversal work packages Coordination (WP1), Communication (WP2), Evaluation (WP3) and Sustainability (WP4) have followed the same scheme, also delving into the status of their deliverables and the tasks to be developed until July. In addition, the Communication team has shown awaited features of the website, like the newsletter or the social networks accounts, as well as specific audio-visual materials designed to accompany important dates such as World Cancer Day, the 4th of February. 

After the respective presentations of all the WP leaders and the final exchange of questions and answers between the different attendees, emphasis has been placed on the opportunities for collaboration between the JA areas and the need to strengthen the flow of multilateral communication between all the entities implied 

Milestones for the next months 

The Joint Action “Strengthening eHealth including telemedicine and remote monitoring for health care systems for cancer prevention and care”, started in September 2022, has still a long way to go until its end at the final months of 2024. 

However, this next five months will be crucial for its progress and evolution since many important milestones should be achieved: the Stakeholder analysis, the updated version of the Dissemination and Communication plan, the Progress Report, the pilot projects protocol and the start of the patients’ enrolment, etc. 

Such progress will be presented in more detail at following Steering Committees. 

Brussels hosts the kick-off meeting of the European cancer project eCAN

The Joint Action “Strengthening eHealth including telemedicine and remote monitoring for health care systems for cancer prevention and care” (eCAN) has been presented at the Pullman Hotel of Brussels between the 20th and the 21st of September. The event paved the way for the eCAN project, framed within the EU4Health Programme and that will be running until the end of 2024.

Coordinated by Sciensano (the Belgian institute for health), eCAN aims to provide a framework of recommendations for the integration of telemedicine and remote monitoring in health care systems. The objective is to reduce cancer care inequalities across the European Union and to help Member States to become pandemic proof, particularly for cross-border health emergencies and crisis, such as COVID-19.

During the kick-off meeting, the head coordinator of the eCAN, Marc Van den Bulcke, has highlighted how the coronavirus epidemic has shown that telemedicine and remote monitoring have the potential to consolidate as regular health care practices, raising new opportunities for patients and health care providers, as well as new questions.

Since March 2020, European institutions have demonstrated that it is possible to develop apps related to health care that work in all EU countries. One example is CovidSafe app, used for saving COVID certificates. Designed for other purposes, technological tools might become ideal for helping cancer survivors to get psychological and emotional support, information about where and how to get resources, and so on and so forth.

eCAN will enrich the EU Health Data Space

A total of 16 EU countries are involved in the eCAN project; besides them, the kick-off meeting brought together a large number of actors interested in the applications of eHealth in a disease that registers, in the EU, 2.7 million new cases every year. Among the attendees, there were European Commission representatives, health ministers, international policymakers, organisations, entities and stakeholders.

The leader of the European Beating Cancer Plan (EBCP), Matthias Schuppe, was one of the keynote speakers that participated at the first eCAN event. He has pointed out that launching this kind of initiatives will help states to better tackle future pandemics and the impact these critical situations have for patients.

Apart from those benefits, eCAN will also contribute to enrich the EU Health Data Space. In this regard, the past president and chair scientific committee of the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), Kathi Apostolidis, has said that this European data space will enable cancer patients to secure their data in an integrated format, and share it with health providers across EU borders. However, digital health literacy, equipment and facilities must be available for all EU member states in order to achieve an appropriate EU Health Data Space and the drop of cancer care inequalities among countries.

The tasks of eCAN

On the other hand, the leader entities of every work package have introduced the tasks that have been assigned to them as well as the road map to carry them out and the difficulties and challenges that these will entail.

Sciensano will lead the coordination work area. Likewise, the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), located in Spain, will be in charge of the communication of eCAN. Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology (in Poland) will assume the third package tasks (monitoring and evaluation), and the Austrian National Public Health Institute (GÖG) will guarantee the sustainability of the recommendations provided.

The Regina Elena National Cancer Institute (IFO-IRE), in Italy, will lead all the actions related to teleconsultation and the legal, ethical framework and cybersecurity aspects. On the other hand, the National eHealth Authority of Cyprus will be in charge of telemonitoring in cancer care. Lastly, the 3rd Regional Health Authority of Macedonia (3rd RHA) in Greece will be the entity responsible of stakeholder engagement, education and training in Members States.

In addition to the beneficiary entities that lead the eight different working areas, eCAN also counts with the participation of other affiliated entities. There is a total of 35 organisations involved in this Joint Action.

Current projections on cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the EU after cardiovascular disease. The prevention and control of cancer would benefit the majority of citizens since cancer shares common risk factors with other noncommunicable diseases. Across Europe, the possibility of receiving a timely cancer diagnosis and of surviving the disease differs considerably because of inequalities in preventive policies, access to state-of-the art diagnostics, treatments and experienced care.

The current projection is that, without strong action, the number of diagnosed cancer cases will increase by a fourth by 2035. Therefore, there is a need to harmonise telemedicine regulations and to explore the efficiency of teleconsultation programmes and telemonitoring in the cancer field. That is precisely the direction in which eCAN is going.

Besides, this initiative coexists with other concurrent European cancer JA. For example, PERCH intends to contribute to improve the dissemination of the HPV vaccine among European citizens, while CraNE and JANE want to establish and improve the EU Network of Comprehensive Cancer Centres and their national counterparts. All these European projects are set to be finished in 2025 at the latest.