Palliative care congress showcases cutting edge technology

(06.06.2012) What happens when doctors cannot cure a disease? What is the best way to make patients comfortable and have the best quality of life possible in the time they have left? Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have developed software that can be used with an iPad or other tablet to help record patient pain levels to help doctors in developing further treatment.EIR is tablet software that helps patients describe their pain.

The software, called EIR, named after a Norse goddess or valkyrie associated with medical skill,  will be presented along with other research at the 7th World Research Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC)  in Trondheim, Norway from 7-9 June. Approximately 1100 participants are registered for the conference, which will showcase the latest research results in palliative care and is being organized in close collaboration with NTNU and St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital.

Prolonging life and improving quality of life
Palliative care is care that is offered to patients who are sick with diseases that cannot be cured. For doctors, palliative care means both prolonging life and improving the quality of what remains of the patient's life. This 7th congress will bring together top medical doctors, caregivers and scientists to discuss cutting edge research and other questions surrounding palliative care.

EIR originated with NTNU researcher Stein Kaasa, who is chair of both the European Association of Palliative Care Research Network (EAPC RN) and head of the European Palliative Care Research Centre (PRC), which is one of the largest palliative care research coordinators in Europe. He is also a member of the organizing committee for this year's world congress.Stein Kaasa, NTNU Faculty of Medicine

EIR's software combines the information entered by the patient with treatment guidelines, which are then available to the doctor before a patient consultation. The doctor is provided a summary of the patient's condition along with suggestions for further investigation and recommended treatment.

Pilot study underway
The system is designed to improve the diagnostic process, and assist the doctor in providing more targeted treatment based on each patient's needs. A pilot study on cancer pain is currently underway at the outpatient cancer clinic in Trondheim, and EIR will be further developed for use for other common symptoms in cancer patients. Approximately 50 patients have already signed up to test the new software. EIR will be on display during the Congress at stand 5 in the exhibition area, and has been developed in association with NTNU Technology Transfer (TTO).

The scientific programme for the Congress features leading palliative care experts, including Augusto Caraceni a neurologist and palliative care physician in charge of the palliative care unit at the National Cancer Institute in Milan. Caraceni is co-chair of the EAPC RN and Professor II at NTNU and is the first author of the new EAPC guidelines for the use of opioids for cancer pain that were published in Lancet Oncology earlier this year. Caraceni and his colleagues from the National Cancer Institute in Milan collaborate closely with the research group in Trondheim.

The other co-chair of the EAPC RN is Luc Deliens from Ghent, Belgium. Deliens is involved in large projects related to public health, health sciences and sociology and is one of the editors of a recently launched book entitled "A public health perspective on end of life care."

For more details regarding the scientific programme, please find the complete overview at www.eapcnet.eu/research2012.