Award for MHB healthcare researchers

08 May 2023

Dr. Felix Mühlensiepen and Susann May (both: Center of Healthcare Research at the Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane/MHB in Rüdersdorf) have received the Heinz Pichlmaier Award for young scientists. The prize was newly established to honor interactive concepts of palliative and hospice care. Endowed with € 3,000, it is intended to stimulate research into palliative and hospice care in Germany and acknowledge young scientists for their attitude and the example they set in the field.

Dr. Felix Mühlensiepen and Susann May had applied for the award with a paper entitled “Digital technologies in routine palliative care delivery: an exploratory qualitative study with health care professionals in Germany” published in BMC Health Services Research. The paper, so Dr. Felix Mühlensiepen, was written in the context of a study on “Digitization at the end of life: potentials and acceptance of information and communication technology in palliative care” (short: DigiPall) supported by the MHB and involving an integrated team of experts in psycho-oncology/palliative care at the Center of Healthcare Research. The study aimed to explore the perspectives, experiences and preferences of health professionals in Germany regarding the use of digital technologies in day-to-day palliative care.

Dr. Mühlensiepen reports from the study results that digital technologies already constitute essential elements of palliative care routines in Germany; caregivers generally see them as useful but also perceive limitations and risks, specifically with a view to human interaction. The paper quotes a hospice nurse who said digital technologies should ideally play a supporting role, “should not be in the focus and just form part of the caring services; so that patients feel understood, that caregivers understand each other, that messages perceived are not contradictory, that the general direction is clear and consistent for all involved, and so on.”

Dr. Mühlensiepen underlines that the study (for details see: Studie DigiPall) aimed not only to explore digital technologies in palliative care but also to stimulate students’ motivation for research into end-of-life care: “Two MHB students were involved in the study conduct from start to finish.” The study contributed to connectivity within the MHB and in addition facilitated national and international exchange. It was executed in close collaboration with the digitization unit of the German Society of Palliative Medicine and the Academic Unit of Palliative Care at the University of Leeds and is financed through third-party funds. The award, so Dr. Mühlensiepen, confirms that DigiPall is headed in the right direction.

The award, donated by the Center of Palliative Medicine at the Cologne university hospital and a local hospice association, was handed over on 20 April when the university hospital celebrated the 40th anniversary of Germany’s first palliative care ward with a symposium for approximately 140 invited guests. Another prize winner is Dr. Theresa-Sophie Busse, Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Photo: © MedizinFotoKöln D.Hensen