Dealing with Cancer: Pharmaceutical Company Turns to Startups for Digital Tech Ideas

To say that cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally is old news. That is the accepted but sad fact. What is alarming now is that the number of new cancer cases globally is expected jump by 70 percent in the next two decades, according to the World Health Organization.

Over 60 percent of the world’s new cases currently come from Africa, Asia, and Central and South Africa. Worse, about 70 percent of the world’s mortality are from these areas as well.

The exigency therefore remains.

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Big Companies Acknowledge the Need

No wonder, even Apple has joined in the rush to find answers to some of the world’s diseases by turning to digital healthcare technology. It relies on iPhone users to provide researchers priceless data for their medical studies far often than ever before.

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While Apple’s quest does not focus on cancer alone, IBM Watson’s does. IBM’s project turns to the power of computers (and artificial intelligence) to sift through data on cancer treatments sent by oncologists.

But there is still more room for smaller players—including startups—to help cancer patients and medical practitioners, including those in emerging markets such as the Philippines. Much still can be done in improving patients’ access to better healthcare starting from the diagnosis of cancer to finding the right doctors, determining the choice of treatment and even medical trials, handling pain, and finding support.


Startups’ Turn: Pitch Your Idea

By launching the Takeda Digital Healthcare Innovation Challenge in Manila, Takeda Pharmaceuticals too is paving the way for startups around the world to pitch their workable digital solutions that address concerns in oncology.

These solutions—be these apps, websites, or software or hardware—must target one of the challenge’s four objectives: increasing patients’ awareness of pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis of diseases; improving health practitioners’ knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer; connecting patients to the right treatment and facilities; and enhancing the coordination among patients, doctors and infusion centers.



Postscript: In August—two months after this post was written—Takeda Pharmaceuticals proclaimed Ascendant Technologies as the winner of the competition for the latter’s entry, the “EMR Doc Finder”. The Finder is a cloud-based electronic medical record solution that allows cancer red flags to be brought to the proper specialists’ attention sooner than later.

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