E.C.O. Connects with the #EUnite Week on the Promise of AI and Data Strengthening our Healthcare Systems

08 July 2021

Last week, on Wednesday 30 June, the European Cancer Organisation (E.C.O.) was invited to contribute to the #EUnite Week, a public webinar series focusing on boosting innovation, sustainability, and efficiency in healthcare systems across Europe through data and digital solutions.

Mike Morrissey, E.C.O. Chief Executive, took part in a discussion on the power of artificial intelligence and big data for the future of the European healthcare ecosystem, alongside distinguished panellists including Salvatore Scalzo (European Commission), MEP Ibán García Del Blanco, Bartek Madej (Novartis), Diana Joseph (Corporate Accelerator Forum) and Marius Geantă (Ino-Med).  

Panellists discussed the digital transformation of healthcare, with emphasis on the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration and a patient-centred approach. As expressed by Mike Morrissey: “This is a human discussion, and patients should be at the centre of this discussion.”

Panellists also highlighted the challenges around the use of data in healthcare. Achieving this transformation will indeed require further actions and initiatives. Asked about these challenges, Mike Morrissey raised the issue of the exchange of data between EU Member States:

“We must step up our efforts to ensure that systems are talking to each other. As shown by our ‘Time To Act’ campaign, it has become evident that problems of data not exchanging well across borders, even across-registries, exist and need to be addressed.”

Despite the actual legal framework on the use of data, further concerns were conveyed on patients’ trust towards data, reminding the responsibility our systems have. Our CEO emphasised that:

“We have to encourage patients to trust their data in a wider context. Cancer patient advocates, focusing on legal use of data, are the people we need to get in the room. This is essential to bring people on our side, get the tone right and show the real-time benefits of data.”

Indeed, Covid-19 has shone a light on the huge, albeit largely unrealised, power of real-time data to improve patient care and health policy decision-making. E.C.O. therefore firmly states its support to the European Commission’s initiatives to make the best of this potential through the establishment of a European Health Data Space and a European Cancer Patient Digital Centre by the European Commission. Mike Morrissey highlighted the crucial need for close involvement of the health stakeholder community when bringing these initiatives to life: 

We call on EU institutions so that all constituents can work together on delivering the European Health Data Space, with patients at the centre.”

Our Digital Health Network is currently developing an advocacy document to assist the European cancer community and EU policymakers in tapping into the full potential of the digital transformation of cancer care for the benefit of patients. For those interested in joining the Network and contributing to its activities, please kindly contact Mike Morrissey at mike.morrissey@europeancancer.org.

To continue this open dialogue in the upcoming months on EU data initiatives, data-informed healthcare, the role of artificial intelligence and much more, we encourage you to register for the European Cancer Summit 2021.