ERN Exchange Programme

ERN Exchange Programme

The ERN Exchange Programme is fully funded by the European Commission (through HaDEA, facilitated by Ecorys). It is designed to spread knowledge across the network and stimulate collaboration between healthcare professionals in European Reference Networks (ERNs).

We strongly encourage you and your colleagues to use the ERN Exchange Programme’s opportunities!

The call for applications is now open. The deadline for arranging visits is the end of December 2022, and the deadline for visits taking place is the end of January 2023.

You can email Jen Tidman, ERN eUROGEN Business Support Manager, with questions or if you want to discuss an application. Ecorys also runs twice-weekly Q&A sessions on Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12:30-13:30 CET, for ERN professionals interested in participating in the Exchange Programme.

Goal & Aim

The goal of the ERN Exchange Programme is: “Sharing expertise, experiences, and highly specialised knowledge between all ERN professionals under the scope and framework of the 24 ERNs, to strengthen clinical and organisational expertise and share best practices in the field of healthcare.”

The aim is for a horizontal approach of shared experiences rather than a vertical teacher-apprentice approach (i.e., knowledge exchanges, not training visits). These are supposed to be clinical/organisational exchanges, so they are not meant for research (though this may be a secondary effect of the exchange programme).

Application Process

  1. If eligible (see below), the potential visitor completes the online tool and emails the ERN Coordination Team.
  2. The ERN contacts potential host representatives to see if they are willing to host and if mutually convenient dates can be found.
  3. If a visit is possible, the ERN sends basic visit details to Ecorys, who contact HaDEA for pre-approval.
  4. In the meantime, the visitor and host representative co-complete a Mobility Agreement (MA) and send it to the ERN for sign-off by the ERN eUROGEN HCP Network Coordinator Representative.
  5. Once pre-approval is given, the ERN sends the completed MA to Ecorys, who contact HaDEA for final approval.
  6. Once final approval is given, logistical arrangements are progressed.

Mobility Agreement: The MA is very easy to complete, with basic details being taken for the participant, their HCP, the host HCP and their representative, then information on the duration, a detailed programme (objectives, planned activities, and expected results) and then signatures from the participant, host, and ERN.

Eligibility

Visitors: Individuals or groups of health professionals (e.g., medical doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, laboratory staff) from all disciplines related to the relevant expertise area of the ERN, working in any ERN full member or affiliated partner healthcare providers, are eligible to make visits. Project managers and ERN patient representatives can also make visits, provided the objective of the visit is relevant. Linked visits (e.g., going from home HCP to one host, to another host, then home) are possible.

Hosts: Host centres must be ERN full member or affiliated partner healthcare providers.

Cross-ERN: Exchange visits from/to healthcare providers in other ERNs are allowed; for example, for ERN eUROGEN visitors, visits to ERN ERKNet, ERN ERNICA, ERN ITHACA, or ERN EndoERN members may be helpful.

Exclusions: Sadly, visits from/to healthcare providers outside the ERNs and outside the EU/EEA are NOT foreseen.

Clinical exchange examples: These have been used to enhance clinical skills, gain more specialised knowledge on rare diseases, see more patients with rare diseases than possible in their own hospital, contribute to the treatment of complex cases, and meet in person with ERN colleagues. These visits have strengthened ERNs by increasing compliance with treatment guidelines, improving diagnosis and care, increasing the incorporation of patient perspectives in treatment decisions, and diminishing disparities in knowledge and expertise among hospitals in the ERN.

Group exchange examples: These could be groups participating in a clinical exchange, groups of new members/affiliated partners being integrated into ERN activities, or groups meeting to work on, e.g., guidelines/registries/patient pathways.

Duration

There is no minimum duration for visits (although each package is for five days, and a whole package will be “used” for even a one-day visit), and the maximum duration is six weeks.

Funding

Each package (see above) provides compensation for five working days, including travel and per diems (€200) for each night spent at the location of the visit for subsistence costs: accommodation, food, and local transport. Weekend stays are compensated with the full amount of per diem, i.e., €200 per night, provided that the programme cannot be conducted otherwise. This could also include a group event/workshop with programme activities on a weekend. The maximum per diems = 40 (i.e., 6 x working weeks, including the weekends in-between but not either side). Costs incurred by host HCPs are NOT included.

Logistics: When a Mobility Agreement (MA) is shared with Ecorys >2 months before the proposed exchange date, Ecorys will organise and manage travel arrangements for the participant(s), including the provision of tickets and travel insurance. When an MA is shared with Ecorys <2 months before the proposed exchange date, the participant(s) must arrange their own travel tickets. They will be reimbursed up to €300 for return air travel, up to €200 for return train travel, and up to €300 for car travel. In all cases, visitors must book their accommodation and cover other costs from the daily allowance compensation.

Receipt of funding: During the visit, as soon as Ecorys receives a written confirmation from the hosting institution representative that the participant has arrived at the hosting institution, Ecorys will order the transfer of the daily allowance. The participant will receive an email to inform them that the daily allowance is on its way. This will generally happen on the first day of the visit. Should questions arise, Ecorys will be ready to support the participant via email. When a Mobility Agreement is shared last minute with Ecorys, it can take a bit longer to transfer the daily allowance.

Positive Evaluations

After a visit, Ecorys sends an evaluation form to the visitor and host. After filling in the evaluation form, the visitor receives a certificate stating the duration and activities performed: the Attestation of Attendance.

Ecorys have found that visitors value the following results:

  • Gaining more specialised knowledge on rare diseases;
  • Seeing considerably more patients with a rare disease than would have been possible in their own hospital;
  • The opportunity to contribute to the treatment of complex cases;
  • Meeting in person with colleagues in the ERN.

Positive evaluations have been received from everyone who has taken part in an exchange through ERN eUROGEN: ”It was a great opportunity”, “We could share our experience”, “It was interesting to finally meet people who I know from virtual conversations”, “I was able to observe a wide array of complex surgeries”, “I will take what I’ve learned back with me to improve my clinical practice. This has been an important step in my Urological training”. “Successful, far beyond our expectations”, “allowed us to exchange knowledge to a depth we never reach in our everyday clinical life”, “this group visit provided great added value for all participants from both clinics.”

Information Videos

Ecorys

Ecorys is the agency facilitating the visits for HaDEA (the funding body of the EC). Their account managers assist ERNs with the needs, design and operationalisation of the programme and provide visitors with personalised logistical support. They also collect data and report to the EC for monitoring and learning purposes

Ecorys has also produced some helpful documentation about the programme, which you can download:

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