On Saturday, Josh, Hereward, Chimeren, Liudas, Adriana and I will be hacking once more, this time at the Hack Cancer event. It’s being held at Google Campus near Old Street and we’ll be coding away for 24 hours to produce something that helps in the fight against cancer.
Although there are lots of things we could come up with, my personal goal is to produce a mobile app that in some way helps the process of cancer treatment. In my view, this means pursuing the following possibilities:
An app that aids diagnosis
This is the absolute holy grail of what we would want to achieve, but it is also the most unlikely. We only have 24 hours and without the benefit of peripheries that could attach to the phone and/or expert knowledge, we probably don’t have the means of helping diagnosis. That being said, there may be rules-of-thumb or basic analyses that medics perform or computers perform within the setting of a hospital that could be transferred to a mobile device. What we absolutely do not want to do is to produce something substandard that could be counterproductive in cancer diagnosis and we must be aware of that if we manage to find something that falls into this category.
An app that aids awareness and encourages people to get screened
This is a difficult one because awareness is normally spread via viral ads, images, social media posts, etc. People need a real reason to install an app on their phone and cancer has become such a ubiquitous cause that if we didn’t give them that reason, it’d just become one more app in a sea of other worthy means of fighting cancer. In my view, if we were to pursue this option, it’d have to have a very specific cause with a very specific goal (i.e. chase after a very specific cancer). Users would perhaps be rewarded for encouraging their friends on social media to get screened. There is another danger here that a gamified app could be seen as trivialising an important issue or it could come across as patronising. It’s difficult to get it right.
An app that helps those affected by cancer
The two groups affected by cancer are, of course, those who have been diagnosed but also those around them who may find themselves offering emotional support, but perhaps even ending up caring for them. Cancer affects loved ones hugely and an app that helps provide a support network for them might be useful. It sometimes helps to share advice and maybe just to simply talk to those going through the same situation. Perhaps somebody has just had a loved one diagnosed and has questions about the process and things to look out for, whereas somebody else who has been through it may be able to advise and to give a few tips. Alternatively, you could have an app for those living with cancer that aids their treatment.
An app that encourages people to act
This could be a simple fundraising app, it could be an app that encourages people to run events (coffee mornings etc) and it could provide a list of fundraising events going on near you so you can attend. Still, this falls under the same point above – people must have a reason to install it on their phone.
I would particularly welcome suggestions from medics who work in diagnosis and treatment – what could you do on your phones that you currently have to do on a machine in the clinic? I’d also welcome suggestions from those affected by cancer – what can we make that would make your lives easier?
Answers on a postcard. Or on Twitter. Thanks!