Tag Archive for: health care

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.