iManageCancer workshops at first International Forum on Cancer Patients' Empowerment

October 05, 2017

Chiara Crico, European Institute of Oncology

Patient empowerment through strengthening disease self-management is the aim of the iManageCancer project and project members were delighted to be part of the first International Forum on Cancer Patient’s Empowerment held in Milan, May 2017. The two-day event focused on the need for more humanized medicine, especially in the oncological field. The forum was an opportunity to rethink patient rights and their increasing involvement in making health-related choices. Patient representatives, healthcare professionals, politicians, international organizations, government agencies and bio-pharmaceutical companies all contributed to the forum.

The general aim was to reflect upon the patient as the core of healthcare, therefore each activity and workshop focused on the need of considering patient interests as the stepping-stone to development of any strategy in the fields of prevention, care, and healthcare resources.

The necessity of a shared European policy in healthcare emerged, together with the need for deeper involvement of patients in the processes of medical decision-making. Having different therapeutic plans across European countries creates inequality for oncologic patients: equity in treatment can be reached only through the sharing of information and medical skills. On the other hand, the EU should also put in place empowerment plans for the patients, in order to improve self-efficacy, awareness, confidence, resilience skills, and patient health literacy. The therapeutic alliance between healthcare professionals and patients today means providing patients with the appropriate tools to understand the information they are given, to consciously participate in therapeutic decisions and in managing their illness. Since the entire treatment of oncological diseases has a major impact on patients' lives, affecting their values, priorities, relationships and the sense of time, quality of life must be taken into due consideration. In order to increase empowerment, treatment needs to be personalized and must be based on a multidisciplinary approach, with special regards to psychological aspects.

Related to the attention to patients’ quality of life, on the second day there was a symposium in the field of mobile health. Technology can be instrumental to improve patients’ lives and deliver patient-centred care, for increased positive health-related outcomes: nowadays, improving technologies provide medical professionals with the possibility of remote patient monitoring and bring patients to the best condition to manage their illnesses, (for instance with mobile applications).

iManageCancer is developing such self-management mobile applications and in related workshops, the audience had the chance to test the applications of the platform. The participants were divided amongst the various working tables and at each table, a member of the consortium demonstrated the features of one of the applications. The audience could contribute to the project by testing, giving their feedback, and expressing their opinions about the usability of the applications.