IBM Research in Ireland is set to collaborate with the Paoli-Calmettes Institute in France on a project to find better ways for healthcare professionals to communicate cancer risk information to patients.
The research alliance between the two entities was made at the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) in Dublin today.
Part of the study collaboration, according to IBM, will be demonstrate how integrating visual information into their consultations can help oncologists when they are communicating the diagnostic and treatment risks to cancer patients.
"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," said Prof François Eisinger of the Paoli-Calmettes Institute, which is based in Marseilles.
"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."
From Ireland, IBM researchers will be creating and reviewing multi-dimensional risk information templates, before giving these to clinicians. The aim is for such medical professionals to 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 in Marseille.
The initial focus of the research study will cover the communication of risk information to prostate cancer patients at both pre- and post-screening stages.
Scientists will then review data from the patient-clinician interactions to glean insights into what visual communication features are most effective at ‘accurately’ portraying the risks and the benefits to patients.
According to the scientists, the data will be made anonymous to protect patient confidentiality and meet government standards.
"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," said Dr Léa Deleris, who heads up the risk analytics group at IBM Research in Ireland.