ERS Presidential Summit 2018: ‘Redesigning the future of patient care’

5 July, 2018

The 2018 ERS Presidential Summit took place in Athens, Greece on 19-20 June. This year the Summit focused on ‘Redesigning the future of patient care’, and was led by ERS President Professor Mina Gaga.

Ahead of the Summit, a cohort of patients from the European Lung Foundation’s patient organisation network responded to a survey that asked about what currently affects their care. The Summit agenda was developed to address the needs and trends identified in the patient survey, through multi-stakeholder discussion, breakout sessions and patient testimonials.

A number of patient advocates and respiratory experts were invited to present on key health topics centring on the importance of incorporating the voice and priorities of patients into the design and delivery high-quality care systems. The agenda was led by patients, and featured a number of individuals telling their personal stories to contribute to the debate on the future of patient care.

The Summit opened with remarks from Professor Gaga, which set the scene in terms of future threats and current solutions to healthcare in Europe. Professor Gaga said: “We must work closely together, all stakeholders, in order to deliver best care, meet the patients' needs and organise health care in an effective, accessible and cost-efficient way, with a human face.”

EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis delivered a video message to the Summit on the policy-level challenges towards achieving good lung health across Europe, highlighting outdoor air pollution, tobacco control and social factors as barriers.

Chair of ELF, Isabel Saraiva, then presented results of the patient’s trend survey. Overall, the survey found that patients are optimistic about the future, concluding that they hope to: live longer than ever before and will benefit from personalised medicines; embrace new technologies, which may speed up diagnosis and allow patients to more easily monitor their conditions; have better access to medical advice from healthcare professionals using online tools; and they expect the public to have a better understanding of what damages the lungs.

The two-day event focused on a number of key themes – with the main programme beginning with a session on multidisciplinary and specialist care, which discussed how this should be managed to improve patient outcomes. Panellists concluded that key priorities for ensuring effective interdisciplinary care must focus on good collaboration, education and communication, and incorporating treatment in to the daily lives of patients.

The following session considered issues related to multi-morbidities and the ageing population, in which Professor Anita Simonds highlighted the need for better education around palliative and end of life care. Panellists suggested the term “end of life” could shift to “advance care planning” in order to reduce stigma, and proposed that patient organisations could better bridge the gap between healthcare professionals and patients, by providing education on the topic to ensure truly patient-centred care.

Presentations also discussed the financing of new advances in medical care in light of growing economic inequalities, with particular focus upon the current situation in Greece, offering insightful perspectives on the complexities of financing healthcare and medicines to make them accessible for patients.

Following the presentations, speakers and attendees were invited to take part in breakout sessions in which they collaboratively developed solutions to the challenges raised in ELF patient’s survey. The outcomes of these deliberations are currently being revised and finalised, and will be followed up in due course.

The final day of the Summit focused on lung cancer, with sessions on prevention and early diagnosis; the future of lung cancer care and treatment; and personalised medicines. It included powerful testimonies from patient advocates and discussion around screening for lung cancer and the future of diagnosis and treatment in the condition. A popular proposal was for the development of European guidelines on lung cancer screening, as well as the integration of smoking cessation into screening programmes.

The outcomes from the discussions held at the Summit aim to pinpoint potential solutions to the barriers identified in the patients’ survey, and will be developed into advocacy points for the future of patient care and published in the European Respiratory Journal as a special EU lung corner.

Following the event, Professor Gaga said: “These have been two extraordinary days! Knowing the scientific data and clinical guidelines is imperative but it is patients who put a face to disease, give us a new perspective and allow us to get the true measure of the problems and the impact of the solutions. They give us the empathy we need to try harder and to get better.

“The summit has been an open dialogue with patients, doctors, policymakers, the pharmaceutical and medical technology industry, all stakeholders. And it has been both scientific but also out of the box and moving. This is how we can move forward, together.

“Our immediate goal is to publish the discussions and outcomes and raise awareness, and also to specifically push for lung cancer screening as it reduces mortality from lung cancer, and when used with clear algorithms, it is not only life-saving but also cost-effective, as proven in studies from the US and Canada.”