Cancer Challenge - Calling Data Scientists

Monday 11th September 2017
Out of 30 applicants 5 win in the first round.

In an effort to improve cancer care in Scotland, five projects have collectively won £325,000 in the first round of the Cancer Innovation Challenge. These ambitious projects aim to harness the power of data science to revolutionise cancer care in Scotland. The funding challenge was launched by (below left) Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scottish Government’s Chief Medical Officer, with the goal to invite data scientists, clinicians and tech innovators to develop advanced systems that can utilize the copious amounts of data collected from cancer patient journeys, to help provide better cancer care in the future.

The Cancer Innovation Challenge reports Millie Rainer (right) is funded by Scottish Funding Council and being delivered by the Data Lab, Digital Health and Care Institute and Stratified Medicine Scotland. It has received more than 30 applications from across Europe, five of which went on to win the first round of funding. These five projects will now have to demonstrate their technical and commercial feasibility, following which, only two winning contenders will move on to the second round of funding where they will be given more funding to develop a functional prototype.

The first round of the challenge was seeking innovative solutions that combine advanced data collection technologies with healthcare delivery. Typically, the journey of every cancer patient leaves behind a trail of data, right from diagnosis to treatment and recovery. Collecting, aggregating and analyzing this data, has the potential to reveal insightful patterns, correlations and associations. Carefully studying all that data and developing systems to refine it into actionable insights can help improve diagnosis, choose the right treatments, eliminate redundancies and vastly improve the quality of care patients receive. Data can also help develop better digital health and self-care solutions that will improve patients’ lives by allowing them to self-monitor and manage their health during recovery stages.

Nearly 357,000 people in UK are diagnosed with cancer every year. In general, hospitals and healthcare providers tend to know very little about the recovery process of a patient after he/she has left the hospital or changed doctors. This allows them to have only a partial view of the cancer situation as a whole. Better management of patient data can help medical researchers see a much bigger picture and develop better pathways for healthcare delivery to cancer patients.

“If used the right way, data can be a vital tool in our efforts to improve services, treatments and outcomes for people with cancer,” said Calderwood. “This cancer challenge is about finding innovative ways of using data that exists, while continuing to guarantee patient confidentiality. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this challenge, and the benefits it will bring to cancer patients and their families.”

The five projects that won the first round of funding are -

  • Remote Patient Measures – by Docobo, Surrey
    Docobo is a company that provides digital health solutions, empowering patients to better manage their own health at home, as well as supporting healthcare staff in delivering world class care. It is best known for its DOC@HOME remote monitoring platform. Docobo’s Cancer Challenge Program aims to develop and enhance its Patient Reported Outcome Measures or PROMs solution through better user and clinician engagement.
  • My Clinical Outcomes – by My Clinical Outcomes, London
    My Clinical Outcomes (MCO) was founded in 2011, as a web-based platform that provides automated collection and analysis of PROM. MCO has been collecting patient data to help clinicians view, analyze and draw insights from this data, to identify opportunities of providing better care. MCO’s Cancer Challenge project includes an app with tailored content and feedback system that engages local patient groups.
  • PROEMS – by Openbrolly, Elgin
    Openbrolly provides web-based digital health solutions with the aim to “dramatically improve citizen well-being, and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare delivery, through the use of digital technology”. For the Cancer Challenge, Openbrolly will be developing the solution called PROEMS or Patient Reported Outcome and Experience Measurement System which will be a flexible, device agnostic solution that will work on future devices.
  • OWise for Scotland – by Px Healthcare, London
    Px Healthcare has developed a digital health platform designed to improve clinical outcomes in oncology using patient experience and advanced data analytics. Px was founded by medical scientists in 2012 to help cancer patients receive better care and improve patient-doctor relationship. Their plan for the Cancer Challenge is to build an app enabling Scottish cancer patients to share real-time PRO data with healthcare providers and the clinical information system of their NHS hospital.
  • Digital Platform for Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Service in Scotland – by SItekit Health, Isle of Skye
    Sitekit provides a host of digital self-care solutions to patients using open-data standards. Personal health records, self-management platforms and identity & access management are some of their solutions. For the Cancer Challenge, Sitekit proposes to expand the platform for the Scottish TYA cancer service to increase collection and analysis of patient reported data to improve treatment and care.

Healthcare has always adopted the latest innovations in technology to improve patient outcomes and delivery of care, be it cutting edge electronic equipment for diagnosis and treatment, mHealth or telemedicine. Today, big data is the most useful technology that is revolutionizing industries radically. It only makes sense therefore, for Scottish government,NHS Scotland, medical researchers and data scientists to flag-off massive talent hunts to encourage digital innovators and improve cancer care.

Peter Hall, Medical Oncologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh as well as the clinical lead for the Cancer Innovation Challenge, said: “Being able to manage how cancer and its treatment is affecting patients from their own perspective will unlock real opportunities for patient-centred care. Insights range from an ability to monitor patient satisfaction across a whole service to enabling alerts when an individual patient reports a high risk treatment side effect, allowing early preventive management.”

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