Paoli-Calmettes Institute and IBM collaborate to better inform
12 July 2012
The Paoli-Calmettes Institute (IPC), France and IBM Research —
Ireland are collaborating on a study that will demonstrate the
effects of how oncologists, integrating visual information into their
consultations, assist in communicating the diagnostic and treatment
risks to cancer patients.
The objective of the collaboration is to find novel ways for
clinicians to effectively present medical risk information to help
cancer patients make their own informed decisions on the benefits of
screening, prevention, or on their treatment management options.
Communicating cancer risk information is a growing area of oncology
and the process is a challenging one for both healthcare
professionals and patients. Patients may have difficulties
understanding complex risk calculations and probabilities for cancer
treatments and diagnosis. Clinicians may find it difficult to
translate risk statistics to individual patients and use only verbal
communications to explain complex information.
“There are many challenges to communicating medical risks for
individualised cancer treatments. It requires specialist knowledge
and understanding in order to inform patients about cancer risk, to
change risk related behaviours, or to reassure people with excessive
risk related anxieties”, says Professor François Eisinger, IPC.
"This research study aims to significantly deepen our clinical
knowledge and practice about risk communications, while helping
patients to better understand their diagnosis and treatments."
IBM researchers will create and review multi-dimensional risk
information templates and provide these to clinicians who will use
the templates as a visual aid to communicate with patients the
implications of their cancer diagnosis and treatments options. The
medical aspects of the project will be led by a team of researchers
at Paoli-Calmettes Institute’s Regional Cancer Centre, Marseille.
Initial focus of the research study will cover the communication of
risk information to prostate cancer patients at both pre- and
post-screening stages, as the number and complexity of risk factors
(age, health status, screening results, side effects of treatments)
makes it especially challenging for clinicians to effectively
communicate with patients on the risks and rationale of the
Scientists will review data from the patient-clinician interactions
to extract insights into what visual communication features are most
effective at accurately portraying the risks and the benefits to
patients. The data will be anonymised to protect patient
confidentiality and meet government standards.
The design of the visual communication templates aims to deliver the
information gathered from medical and statistical content such as
inherited, biological and environmental risk factors and lifestyle
habits that may influence the development of cancer in patients.
“This research demonstrates how risk analytics and visual
communications can aid medical staff to communicate effectively in
order to support cancer patients to make more informed decisions
about screening strategies or treatment programmes,” say Dr. Léa
Deleris, Manager of Risk Analytics group at IBM Research - Ireland.
With the study results, researchers are hoping to develop useful
tools that will support in the communication of cancer patients’
risk profile, ultimately helping to foster compliance with cancer
prevention and screening protocols. For health professionals the
study aims to support the intercommunication of medical data to the
general public more clearly and objectively, while developing new
models of cancer care.
About Paoli-Calmettes Institute
The Institute is located in Marseille, is the regional centre
providing global care for cancer. It is a member of UNICANCER, the
national federation of cancer centres. Offering treatments for
adults, the Paoli-Calmettes Institute has built a strong nation-wide
and world-wide reputation on the treatment of cancers. The Paoli-Calmettes
Institute is one of the rare private facilities that has been
licensed by the HAS for the last four years (the overall health
authority) (V2010); this is its third certification. IPC‘s
specificity relies on the wide range of activities embodied on its
site: prevention, research, training, treatment and rehabilitation.
Over 250 researchers work in close collaboration with the medical
teams to offer the cutting edge scientific advancements and the
highest level treatments against cancers.