Oncology is one of Roche’s key focus areas. Cancer is a life-changing and complex disease. It does not discriminate and strikes the old and the young alike. When diagnosed, patients are forced to confront their own mortality. It can be emotionally and physically crippling for patients and their loved ones. Today, cancer patients and their families are often faced with multi-dimensional challenges including (but not limited to):
Making informed life-critical decisions with little knowledge of what is best for them;
Trying to comprehend medical advice provided by doctors with no real understanding;
Being overwhelmed by information on the Internet, and not knowing whether or not the information can be trusted;
Accessing the various treatment options and clinical trials as an alternative. For some, the best treatment is inaccessible due to cost. For others, lack of knowledge or medical expertise in their geography cause it to be difficult for them to obtain treatment.
In this daunting journey, patients and their families are faced with the most difficult decisions to make. For patients, information online can be overwhelming, false or incomplete. While they sift through the morass of information, most of which are not easily understood due to the lack of medical knowledge, patients and their family are unable to judge the quality of this information with a critical eye.
Roche Diagnostics wants to put empowering, medically accurate and easy-to-consume oncology information in the fingertips of a patient for their entire cancer journey, and empower the patient to access information globally regarding their treatment and clinical trial options.
Oncology clinical trials are conducted to understand how a new medical treatment or drug affects the patients’ condition. The most important group of people involved in clinical trials are the patients, which occasionally includes healthy volunteers. While the decision to join a clinical trial is often made in consultation with the patient’s medical team, making the final decision can be daunting.
Many patients join a clinical trial in hopes of personal benefit. For some, it is the anticipation that the new drug can help them when all other options have been exhausted. For others, it is a chance to receive treatment that would otherwise be unaffordable or previously inaccessible to them. In the Asia Pacific region, access to clinical trials is at best opportunistic. For those who have made connections with the right medical professionals, they can be at a stage in their disease where they can receive potentially life-saving medications and treatment.
For the stakeholders involved in the Clinical Development process, patient recruitment is always challenging. For the patients, the lack of trial knowledge, misconceptions perpetuated by the mainstream media, and difficulties gaining access to these trials all become insurmountable barriers to participate in clinical trials.
How can we build a solution that empowers a cancer patient at every point of their disease journey from symptom, diagnosis to treatment? And, for those seeking to explore enrolment in clinical trials, how can we match them to potential trials and direct them to the right institution or medical professional contact for consideration?
What We Are Looking For
We are looking for a prototype solution that could be tested by cancer patients in selected priority markets for usability, functionality, utility and desirability.
The prototype should act as a virtual personalised companion that empowers the patient and their family members at every point in their journey from symptom, diagnosis to treatment such as:
Structure and provide medically accurate information about the disease in an easy to consume manner closely linked to questions they may ask themselves and decisions they will likely need to make during their cancer journey (e.g. symptoms, causes, screening, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, trials)
Share lifestyle recommendations and tips that are medically accurate (including diet, exercise, etc.)
Enable suggestions to connect patients and family members with important support and expert networks (e.g. patient support groups, cancer networks)
Track and set important reminders around their medical-related / cancer-journey related appointments
Allow them to track and manage their symptoms and treatment (e.g. medication) experience/process
Allow them to document necessary information and advice about their cancer journey from healthcare providers
(For patients exploring clinical trials) Structure and provide helpful information about clinical trials to assist patients in making an educated decision (e.g. what it might feel like to enter a clinical trial, the risks and benefits, debunking myths around clinical trials, etc.)
Allow patients to upload their medical information (e.g. personal, lab, imaging, EMR or symptoms-related information) to be used for the purpose of facilitating:
easy sharing with family members;
easy sharing with medical professionals and healthcare institutions;
trial matching based on algorithms considering the patient result information and the inclusion/exclusion criteria of a trial
The solution will need to consider patient consent and indemnity agreements required.
Possible Use Case
A 42-year-old woman with 3 children finds a lump in her breast. The anxiety begins immediately. After a series of imaging and diagnostics test, she is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Her doctor starts to discuss next steps: mastectomy, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. She is overwhelmed and shocked. At home, she and her husband decide to try and access information about what to do and where to start. She finds BLUE HEX and her family members use the application to guide them through her cancer journey. She logs her symptoms, treatment progress, and emotions via the app so that family members all over the country are connected and are able to encourage her. To keep her family updated as much as possible, after a few months, she decides to capture her CT scan and lab results via the camera function of the app, which is uploaded and updated into the Medical Information / Results section of the app. Her family members can track her treatment progress by reviewing the app.
After several rounds of chemotherapy treatment, her tumour markers continue to hover in the same range. Together with her husband, they are ready to think about alternative treatments and decide to read up on clinical trials via the app. With a better understanding of the benefits and risks, she decides to try out the Clinical Trial Matching function of the app. She requests a hard copy of her latest medical results from the various healthcare institutions frequented, uploads the results into the app, and receives recommended trial match suggestions globally. She brings this information to her doctor for advice.
After rounds of discussion and exploration, the doctor shortlists two of the trials suggested by the app and initiates contact based on information provided via the app. For one of the trials, the site investigator, a local Healthcare Institution, is contacted. And for the second trial, a biopharma company based in California is contacted.
Further information and results are exchanged and she enrols into a trial conducted by the biopharma company in California. She continues to use the app to update her family members overseas on the progress of her treatment through a combination of the Journal and Medical Results Functionality of the app.
What's In It For You
SGD 25,000 of prize money for POC/prototype development
Opportunity to test, demonstrate and validate solution in partnership with the Roche Diagnostics APAC team