War On Cancer, the Stockholm-based app aimed to radically improve the mental health and wellbeing of everyone affected by cancer, and in close collaboration with Knowit, a digital transformation consultancy are the 2021 winners of The Startup category of SAS Global Hackathon, HackinSAS.
Of 100+ teams that qualified for the Hackathon, War On Cancer and Knowit built a winning solution that helps everyone affected by cancer avoid to hinder and prevent mental health during and after cancer through the use of machine learning and analytics.
The jury’s motivation for the win in the Global Startup category: “This is a socially beneficial project that aims to improve the mental health of cancer patients. It uses a powerful combination of survey, Natural Language Processing, and semantics analytics to assess mental health. Conversational AI is used to offer an interactive element which is crucial for people in need of support and advice. The problem was well addressed and brought up the sensitive topic of cancer to attract attention and compassion. The way to address the theme was clear, using the necessary technologies to develop the idea.”
Every year, 65,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Sweden. A study was conducted in the War On Cancer app about how cancer care is currently addressing the mental health of people affected by cancer. Over 70% of respondents answered that they had experienced a decrease in mental health since being diagnosed with cancer.
“Not only is it a physical journey but a mental health journey, where people who have been affected experience isolation, loss of identity, clinical depression, and PTSD. This often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed by healthcare. It’s not because health professionals don’t care, it’s because they don’t have the right tools, time, or the resources to do so. Being able to counteract this through technology and at the fingertips of people affected by cancer can have a huge impact, individually and on society at large,” explains Sebastian Hermelin, COO and Co-founder at War On Cancer.
Using SAS Viya and Microsoft Azure, combined with machine learning and analytics, the solution helps cancer patients and medical teams to detect early indications of mental health issues. The solution also provides a diagnosis tool for preventative actions, early support, and self-treatment programs. With the insights collected from a survey conducted in the War On Cancer app, the team used SAS Viya to perform qualitative analysis to gain a deeper understanding of the patient’s journey. Natural language processing was used in order to understand the language and extract the sentiments from free text comments. From this, patterns and insights were discovered, and the technology builds smart, empathetic, and effective services. The solution includes a chatbot that uses relevant AI that guides patients to relevant self-service solutions and discovers information relevant for potential future health treatment.
“More and more people are identified every year who need, but cannot gain, timely access to evidence-based mental healthcare to cope with the psychological effects of cancer. Digital health technologies, particularly those that can effectively use AI to personalize the care that is delivered, will play an extremely important role in addressing that need. I’m very excited to be working alongside clinical researchers and experts in AI to help War on Cancer to further develop their app with the aim of improving the lives of people with cancer.” – Sean Perrin, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Lund University.
War On Cancer and Knowit have built this solution and intend to start implementing it in the War On Cancer app soon.