What is an eHNA and how can it help me?

In this blog, our information development nurse Rebecca looks at what the eHNA is, how it works and how it might be able to help you get the support you need. 

A cancer diagnosis can affect you in many ways. You may worry about your treatment or about the possible side effects it may cause. But you may also worry about your work, mortgage or who is going to look after your children or pets if you need to go into hospital.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell your doctor or nurse what is worrying you. You might think they aren’t interested or that they don’t have time. Or they might seem more focused on something you aren’t so worried about.

This is where Macmillan’s eHNA can help. The eHNA stands for electronic holistic needs assessment. It is called ‘holistic’ because the assessment looks at needs or concerns you may have about any area of your life, not just about the symptoms of the cancer.

These concerns can be:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • practical
  • financial
  • spiritual.

Having an eHNA is about recognising that any area of your life affected by cancer is important. It gives you the time to explore what resources, help and support are available.

You may be offered an eHNA around the time of your diagnosis, during treatment or after treatment has ended. If the assessment is not offered, you can ask your key worker for it. Because your needs may change, you can ask for an assessment at any time if you feel it would help. You may have a separate appointment for the eHNA, or it may happen at the same time as other appointments you are having.

This image is a flowchart of the three stages of an eHNA. The first stage is to fill in a checklist. The second stage is to discuss answers with a health professional. The third stage is to create a plan together.

How does the eHNA work?
You complete a checklist online before your appointment. You may be asked to do this at home. Or you may be given a tablet to use when you are in the waiting room. You are asked to rate how mild or severe your concerns are. This helps decide what needs to be dealt with first.

Your appointment is when you can talk through your concerns. You and your key worker will talk together about what can help you. This might include giving you more information, or referring you to another professional, such as a dietitian. You can bring someone to the appointment with you if you want to.

This image is a quote from Tracy. It reads, it’s a really good prompt. When youre looking at the iPad you can just tick a box and then they can go through it with you.

Your key worker will give you a document called a care plan to take home with you. Sometimes this is called a support plan. It is a summary of what you talked about. So you don’t need to worry about how you will remember everything.


Your care plan may also be given to your GP and other professionals caring for you. It helps them to know what your concerns are and what help is planned. This can only happen with your permission.

If you want to find out more about the eHNA you can download or order from be.macmillan. You can also call the support line to order a copy on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week, 8am to 8pm). 


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

Whatever cancer throws your way, we're right there with you. 

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in).