Thank you for taking the time to read this. My name is Liam Bourke. I am a professor of cancer research from Sheffield in the UK.
My research career has been dedicated to exploring how to get the best cancer outcomes (optimising quality of life, mitigating adverse effects of treatment and mitigating disease recurrence) through complex behavioural & lifestyle interventions. I won the inaugural CRUK international prize for patient-centred research in 2017 and my work has formed the cornerstone of international clinical best practice as featured in the joint EAU, ESTRO, SIOG prostate cancer guidelines (see chapter 8 https://uroweb.org/guideline/prostate-cancer/).
I am writing to ask for your help. I want to set a up a new not-for-profit patient organisation to support people in achieving better cancer outcomes. One of its main attractions would be the provision of evidence-based services that are not offered in beleaguered national health services. This would include:
- Digital oncology-specific lifestyle programming and psychological support to minimise primary and secondary cancer risk and optimise quality of life
- Providing patient education and training
- Supporting individual recovery through programmes such as vocational rehabilitation
- A dedicated patient panel to prioritise R&D targets
Patients should be able to access these therapies a world class health service – but they are simply not able to. There is a strong evidence base for these interventions, which can offer clinically meaningful benefits to cancer patients. However, such services are very rarely delivered to patients. The problem is compounded by the reality that patients often cannot afford private healthcare. The end result being that patients suffer despite therapeutics which could provide real help. Patients describe this as ‘falling off the cliff’.
This new organisation would aim to make these critical services available online and so (ideally) make these services universally accessible. Remote accessibility is a feature that is ever more critical in a COVID era of healthcare. Though my expertise and experience of over a decade in cancer research, I have the design, mechanistic algorithms and concept for how these services could be delivered in a truly world-first enterprise.
As a clinical scientist, I have a very limited knowledge of software development and I am certainly not able to build something of this scale and functionality. I have been working for the last 12 months on the more conceptual side of what the not-for-profit organisation would offer and how it would meet the needs of cancer patients. I would dearly like to talk to someone about how the software required for this project could be put together, what skills it needs, what the ‘build’ would need to look like, what the costs would be to get it going (and maintain it) and maybe even look at some prototyping.
I very much appreciate any time and assistance you might be able to offer.
Professor Liam Bourke