Problem/Need Addressed by Technology
Prostate cancer remains the second most common cause of cancer death in American men, with 200,000 new cases and 30,000 deaths in 2019 alone. Despite its prevalence, Cancer.gov reports that men do not seek the regular screenings or treatment, leading to unnecessary death and suffering for patients. I have seen firsthand the devastating impact of prostate cancer in breaking apart families and communities as I have volunteered in urology wards and organize health workshops for prostate cancer patients over the past 5 years. What struck me most from these experiences was a lack of information, isolation and disempowerment felt by patients throughout the treatment process. The creation of a virtual, personalized patient portal for prostate cancer patients would provide them an understanding of their disease and the importance of seeking screening and diagnostics while engaging them in their own health.
A new portal for prostate cancer patients to learn more about their illness, access resources, identify support groups, discover clinical trials, seek professional counseling and allow them to regain agency over their cancer. This portal will be accessible as a digital hub for patients and their families faced with a new diagnosis. This portal will be of particular help for underserved patients who may be unfamiliar with the basis of their condition and the concrete next steps they should take. It will also help alleviate the stigma around prostate cancer as local support groups can be organized through this portal and patients can see and connect with others like them. This innovation will accelerate innovation in prostate cancer research as it eliminates the oftentimes complicated method of connecting patients with clinical trials. These clinical trials offer lifesaving treatments to patients, so democratizing the enrollment process can save lives. This innovation may be monetized through charging clinical trial organizations and local providers for listings.
Who is Your Competition?
The current state of information for prostate cancer patients is fragmented as no centralized, personalized portal exists for new prostate cancer patients; they may receive pamphlets from their healthcare professional, but through health workshops I conduct in New York, I have found these to be too technical for patients and their families. Other prostate cancer patients may resort to seeking information from YouTube videos or browsing websites from providers with varying levels of scientific rigor and a potential for exploitation by-profit services. Clinical trial enrollment is not currently structured to be accessible by ordinary patients, locked behind byzantine government websites, therefore this portal could unlock a large and diverse patient pool for new therapies. At this point, there is only a fractured media landscape for prostate cancer patients as no comprehensive portal is available.
- Malhaar Agrawal, MIT undergrad
- Luca Sfragara, Italian Senior High School Student (mobile developer)
- Priyanka Bandekar, Graduate student at Northeastern University (UX/UI Designer)
- Avinash Upadhyaya K R, Senior at University Visveswaraya College of Engineering, Bengaluru, India
How we built it
We used Python, Flask, HTML, Heroku and Figma.
Challenges we ran into
How to work with government health databases and sort through clinical trials. We also had to learn more about how clinical trials worked and what their eligibility criteria were
Accomplishments that we're proud of
A working website and API algorithm. We deployed the website on Heroku.