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Interview of the month - Pr Bart Leroy, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium
Every month, ERN-EYE invites you to meet an active person within the network through a short interview. This month, it's Pr Bart Leroy, HCP Ghent University Hospital, Belgium, who agreed to answer our questions.
What is your concrete role in the ERN-EYE network?
First of all, I’m a representative of HCP Ghent University Hospital in Ghent, Belgium. Second thing, I’m the workgroup 1 co-leader with Michael Larsen from Denmark.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue ERN-EYE could overcome?
I think the better integration of services. We work along similar things for patients and we improve cross border consultations. This is especially important if you look at countries that do not have specialists in rare eye diseases and that are member states of Europe. Currently, it’s very difficult to organize cross border consultations. Some of them will not be necessary because we will solve them through the patient management system which is a system that we will be using to discuss cases, this will be done in an electronic fashion giving an advice, an opinion to people who may need that in countries that don’t have super specialists. Other patients would have to move or have to consult people in HCPs in other countries. So these cross border consultations improving will really help improve our status and show that ERN-EYE is really worth it.
What are the main challenges of the network?
I think there is one main challenge that we have : obviously financing the whole thing. We are being asked by the European Commission to provide better services for our patients and that’s something that makes to all the times. I think we invest a lot of time of our profession time and also our private time into doing just that. So this is sometimes observed that doing something extra again without extra financing, at the end of the day, it all depends on how we will be succeeding in motivating people and showing them the advantages.
And the best advances?
I think working on a similar line, discussing how we should be doing this integrating the services that are and also getting to know even better our super specialists in rare eye diseases: we all knew most of the other people but we didn’t know them very well and in fact it only benefits the patients. And one thing that I found super in this set-up of those ERNs is that we have to include patient organizations at the base of the structure. And so that really shows how well integrated we now work with the patients and organizations. That’s something that can only benefits eventually all the patients in their care.
In your dreams, what would ERN-EYE look like in 10 years ?
I think ERN-EYE would be, in my dreams, probably unnecessary in the sense that we’re actually smoothing out all the services to patients so it’s very easy for people to cross the border and see other specialists but also we reinforced services in countries that do not yet have them available at this present time. So obviously we would need a bit of extra financing to be able to do just that but I would hope that ERN-EYE will not be necessary any more, we will keep it as a structure obviously but the essence of the work that we are doing now would not be necessary anymore.
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