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By Martyna Giedrojć, Policy Officer for eHealth and Health Workforce, EPHA

In the context of our work on eHealth and as part of the 2016 European Week Against Cancer (EWAC), on 25 May EPHA attended the event“Unleashing the mHealth potential for cancer patients” organised by the European Patient Cancer Coalition (ECPC) and hosted by MEP Cristian-Silviu Busoi (RO, EPP). The focus of the event was on innovative solutions offered by new technology to help treat and manage cancer, especially mHealth.

The European Week Against Cancer (EWAC) took place on 25-31 May. The EWAC is an annual health campaign, organised since 1989, to promote the European Code Against Cancer: an eleven-point guide to cancer prevention focusing on healthy lifestyles and screening. EPHA takes part in the EWAC and supports its aims by making sure that cancer prevention is on the EU agenda for health.

During the mHealth event, Dr Busoi stated that, until now, cancer research has been aimed only at fighting the disease, but actions should also be directed at investing in new technology which can contribute to prevention. When it comes to mHealth apps, efforts are still needed to create trust amongst patients, who need to be assured that health data is processed in a fair, lawful and transparent manner. To illustrate these issues further, Dr Anne Bruinvels, Prof Jourik Gietema and Dr Jo Arnes, presented examples of patient-oriented apps, all underlining that patients and health professionals must be included in the development of mHealth solutions.

The regulatory framework is on the agenda, confirmed Peteris Zilgalvis, in charge of e-health and wellbeing at DG CONNECT. He reminded the participants of the Code of Conduct for mHealth apps, which is currently being elaborated by industry stakeholders and covers the main data protection principles to be followed by app developers. The results of this work will be presented during the 2016 eHealth Week, taking place in Amsterdam between 8-10 June.

With this in mind, the logical next step for the EU must be better inclusion of mHealth in healthcare at the national, regional and European level. This might include the prescription of certain mobile apps, as is already taking place in the United States. This could be a way to save time for patients and facilitate information seeking. It would also be an advantage for doctors to be able to receive and respond to test results wherever they are.

EPHA’s new campaign on e/mHealth will kick off in the autumn. One of the main goals will be to support the Commission and national governments to embed eHealth as an integral part of healthcare, exploring the opportunities to improve access for everyone and reduce inequalities. This will entail analysing the concerns of disease-specific and vulnerable groups and the barriers they face, as well as supporting health professionals to make the best use of e/mHealth in their daily practice. mHealth functions, opportunities and potential benefits for patients, health professionals, providers and vulnerable groups are also discussed in EPHA’s Briefing on mHealth (2013).