Cancer Care Needs in the Community Setting

31 January 2023

The Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on the Cancer Care Needs in the Community Setting brought together leading policymakers, politicians, patient advocates, oncology experts and primary healthcare professionals (HCPs) to discuss EU policy developments related to cancer care needs in the community setting. This Roundtable demonstrated how the rights of cancer patients to quality cancer care can be met and delivered by a fuller utilisation of care opportunities in the community setting.

Twelve key themes emerged in the policy recommendations developed and discussed during the meeting:

  1. Better data collection on outcomes for people living with cancer, with a recurrence of cancer, or with metastatic cancer must be facilitated. Collecting quality data and turning it into cancer intelligence, applying the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic is essential. This includes ensuring that Europe’s cancer registries are reorientated to capture standardised data about cancer recurrence and cancer metastasis going forward.

  2. Unmet needs for those living with cancer include the need for better care coordination and support for psychological and emotional effects of cancer.

  3. The European Code of Cancer Practice, including its right to reintegrate into society must be implemented across Europe, in particular the right to return to work. This should be delivered with the support of additional legislation as required.

  4. Primary healthcare professionals must be supported to play a greater role in caring for those living with cancer.

  5. Cancer care to underserved communities must be improved by diversifying traditional approaches to treatment and care, as well as through accelerated use of standardised data intelligence and access to innovative digital technologies.

  6. Electronic patient reported outcomes (ePROs) must be used to assess and address patient needs for those living with cancer, preferably as part of routine care, within the community setting.

  7. Careful planning and integration for digital health technologies must be implemented in ambulatory care hospitals to avoid data silos, reduce inequalities, and avoid roadblocks to implementation.

  8. Digital infrastructure and skills must be invested in by health systems to improve patient safety and health system efficiency, reduce administrative burden on healthcare professionals and thus increase face-to-face interaction.

  9. A digital, longitudinal, and accessible patient-centred record, integrated into a National Cancer Control Programme (or other similar national system), must be delivered to support safe and effective cancer care in the community setting.

  10. Collaboration between national and EU policymakers must be facilitated to ensure that local, regional, and national health data systems are interoperable, and ensure healthcare professionals in the community setting have appropriate access to provide effective cancer care in the community.

  11. High-level policy frameworks such as Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the EU Research Mission on Cancer, and the European Health Data Space must be exploited to provide opportunities to strengthen the European Health Union, including cancer care in the community setting.

  12. Broad and senior clinical leadership must be ensured within health systems for the digitalisation of health services and practices, including across different care sectors.

Kathy Oliver, Co-Chair, ECO Patient Advisory Committee and Co-Chair of the Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on the Cancer Care Needs in the Community Setting, said: 

As we finally come out of the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it's critical that health systems fully learn lessons from the pandemic. This includes how we can support more cancer care to be delivered effectively in the community setting. Our Action Report gives key recommendations on this, including improved care coordination between sectors with uptake of digital solutions, and better capturing and understanding the outcomes of treatment and other challenges that cancer patients experience during their day-to-day lives.

Mirjam Crul, ECO Board Member and Co-Chair of the Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on the Cancer Care Needs in the Community Setting, said: 

Cancer care should be delivered where the patients prefers to be, if this is technically possible. Many patients prefer to be in their own community in their own home as opposed to in a hospital or care home. Therefore, we should strengthen the options for providing care  in the community as much as we can.

Download the Report here.