European Reference Networks (ERNs) for patient benefit
Between 6 000 and 8 000 rare diseases affect an estimated 30 million people in the European Union. An unfortunate feature of rare diseases and complex conditions is the scarcity and fragmentation of specialist knowledge, which is often not available in the patient’s region or country. Many patients therefore might not receive a satisfactory explanation for their symptoms, have delays to correct diagnosis or have access to the necessary knowledge on treatment options, rehabilitation and care.
By consolidating knowledge and expertise scattered across countries, the ERNs will give healthcare providers access to a much larger pool of expertise, therefore resulting in a more accurate diagnosis for the patient with advice on the best treatment available for their specific condition.
EpiCARE is a network of 28 specialist health centres in 13 European countries with expertise in rare and complex epilepsies. EpiCARE centres aim to enhance patient care by providing access to cutting edge clinical knowledge and diagnosis as well as a high standard of care provision by using e-tools and e-consultancy through regular, virtual multi-disciplinary meetings. This way it is the medical knowledge and expertise that travel rather than the patients, who have the comfort of staying in their supportive home environments.
Patient Pathway for EpiCARE
Patients suffering from rare and complex epilepsies have access to the full spectrum of the diagnostic and therapeutic options via the nearest national participating epilepsy centre. You can find the list of EpiCARE centres here. If more specialised expertise is required, the members of one participating centre will collaborate with another centre displaying the required specific expertise and together, they will decide on the best and most comfortable way for the patient to proceed with diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
To review a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, EpiCARE centres will convene a virtual advisory board of medical specialists across different disciplines, using a dedicated IT platform called Clinical Patient Management System (CPMS) as well as virtual meetings via WebEx. At this time the patient will not be asked to participate in these virtual meetings as your medical specialist will do so on your behalf.
Information on Cross-Border Healthcare
In March 2011, a new Directive was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union: Directive 2011/24 on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. The Directive sets out the conditions under which a patient may travel to another EU country to receive safe and high quality medical care and have the cost reimbursed by their own health insurance scheme. It also encourages cooperation between national healthcare systems.
The links below provide further information about cross-border healthcare.
- Patient information Leaflet in Cross-Border Healthcare
- Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare (video)
- Q&A: Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare
- The list of national contact points for Cross-Border Healthcare
- EU Commission’s DG Health & Food Safety (SANTE)’s page on Cross-Border Healthcare
- EU Commission’s DG Health & Food Safety (SANTE)’s conference on Cross-Border Healthcare, “Towards amplified awareness of EU rights to cross-border care” and report
- Your Europe page on Healthcare
EpiCARE patient group
The EpiCARE Patient Group (ePAG, European Patient Advocacy Group) gathers Patient representatives and Patient Organisations in rare and complex epilepsies who will ensure that patient voice is heard and implemented throughout the ERN development process. Patient organisations can become ePAG member organisations and patients can become ePAG representatives.
The Patient Group enables Patient representatives to work together on common issues and deliverables, as well as being involved in all EpiCARE activities.
The Patient Group has two Chairs, ePAG representatives and ePAG members.
Myra De Groot