Unlocking the Potential of Digitalisation in Cancer Care – No Stopping Us Now!

15 November 2021

The European Cancer Organisation has published a position paper providing advice to the EU, WHO and national governments on how to harness the power of data and digital for better quality cancer care. The paper conveys consensus from healthcare professionals, patients, and the treatment and service development sector, and other invited experts.

‘Unlocking the potential of digitalisation in cancer care – No Stopping Us Now!’ sets out evidence and suggestions across multiple areas of technological development, including: big data, artificial intelligence, telemedicine, robotics, and virtual reality.

Authored in conjunction with the Digital Health Network of the European Cancer Organisation, key recommendations include:

  • Addressing known regulatory barriers to the advance of digital healthcare such as cited problems in the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Advancing the agenda of digitalisation and data interoperability in cancer care, including by setting strong targets for further alignment and commonality in approach between cancer registries in Europe
  • Supporting the advancement of digital health in cancer care with tailored support to develop the digital literacy of both patients and healthcare professionals

Benefitting from the views and contributions of more than 18 organisations, the paper sets out a positive vision of the opportunities to be realised from all major fields of present innovation in digital healthcare, and provides a mandate from the European cancer community to secure further action from political decision-makers.

Wim Oyen, Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s Digital Health Network, said:

“We are at a critical juncture in the digital health revolution. As evidenced by our Network’s paper today, there is a shared understanding by all stakeholders of the power of data and digital health solutions to advance cancer care. But known obstacles remain. It’s time to be precise about these, prioritise and take pragmatic and achievable actions now. Regulatory barriers are frequently cited but left unaddressed. Interoperability is not a new call to make, yet we remain short on defined targets to progress beyond this issue. The other pillar of advancing digital healthcare’s contribution to cancer care is addressing the known needs of digital literacy, for both patients and healthcare professionals.”

Regina Beets-Tan, Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s Digital Health Network, said:

“In my role within the EU Cancer Mission Board I have been pleased to join with colleagues in helping to ensure digital has been firmly part of that flagship EU cancer policy initiative. As our paper makes clear today, there is a suite of exciting EU initiatives on digital healthcare presently that can all combine to accelerate change. However, ultimately, their overall success will be dependent on fully preparing the environment across Europe for their utility. This means acting firmly on the 3 main calls of our report today: reducing regulatory barriers; political commitments on delivering interoperability; and, getting healthcare professionals, and the population at large, ready for the digital revolution in cancer care.”