International experts from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, and Sweden are uniting to develop new treatment and care pathways for elderly patients with multiple chronic diseases.

Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program, ESCAPE is a €6.1 million, 4.5-year project that focuses on developing integrated, patient-centred treatment pathways for caring for multimorbid elderly patients.

As we age, many people face the challenges of having two or more simultaneous chronic diseases or conditions, known as “multimorbidity”. Treating multimorbidity in elderly patients is particularly difficult, especially when it involves both mental and physical conditions.

Caring for these multimorbid elderly patients requires different teams of experts from across the healthcare system. However, in many cases there are barriers within healthcare systems that prevent information exchange and limit sharing of data. This can lead to fragmented healthcare and potentially adverse outcomes for patients.

ESCAPE will address this challenge by creating an integrated, patient-centred approach for treating multimorbid elderly patients. The project’s interdisciplinary, multinational team of 16 partner organisations from eight European countries includes experts from general and hospital medical practices, psychology, health economics, Digital Health systems and patient and informal carer representatives.

Supported by a customised version of the cutting-edge imergo® Integrated Care Platform developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT), ESCAPE’s multidisciplinary team will create customised treatment plans that are personalised to individual patients’ needs and preferences and integrated among healthcare providers. The platform will empower patients and informal carers to prioritise the treatments that will improve their quality of life.

ESCAPE project coordinator, Dr Susanne S. Pedersen, Professor of Cardiac Psychology and Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern Denmark and affiliated with the Department of Cardiology, Odense University Hospital said:

“ESCAPE is an innovative project that has the potential to create a profound change in how we treat and manage multimorbid elderly patients. The integrated, patient centred approach we are developing will enable healthcare providers to offer more efficient, effective treatment that leads to a better quality of life for our patients. I am proud to lead this great team effort and I look forward to many exciting developments in the coming years.”

A key part of the project will be a randomised, controlled trial across European countries led by ESCAPE project partner Professor Christoph Herrmann-Lingen, Universitätsmedizin Göttingen (Germany). Focusing on patients with chronic heart failure, psychological distress and at least two other physical co-morbidities, the trial will compare the outcomes of ESCAPE’s new, blended collaborative care approach with current patient care. Researchers will determine which approach leads to the best health-related quality of life for patients.

The ESCAPE project commenced on 1st April 2021 with the launch meeting for partners held online on 8th April.