Microsoft South Africa and NPO Living with Cancer have partnered to build and strengthen the capabilities of South Africa’s first patient-led cancer registry using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.
The registry, which was established in 2017 and includes a customised website and mobile app, helps people living with different types and stages of cancer to capture and track their journey by updating information such as diagnosis, date of diagnosis, stage and well-being status. It also acts as a central hub of resources and information, and community support system where people living with cancer can connect with each other.
Powered by Azure, people can now seamlessly, safely and securely import and upload their pathology reports and other documentation to the site so they can be verified by the National Cancer Registry (NCR). The NCR reports on the numbers of patients diagnosed with cancer in laboratories and hospitals around the country. Patient-reported data is critical to the organisation’s incidence analysis and ability to accurately report the burden of cancer in South Africa.
Protecting the confidentiality of people’s personal information is a primary concern for these organisations, and Azure’s built-in privacy and compliance controls ensures that this data is fully protected and secure – while simultaneously ensuring the essential sharing of rich information and insights needed by decision-makers to make the right decisions around medication and treatment requirements for individuals living with cancer.
“By leveraging the right technology solution, we are able to not only support and empower people living with different types and stages of cancer, but also provide much-needed insights and information about cancer that has the potential to transform the nature of care in South Africa,” says Belinda Wagner, founder of Living with Cancer.
Having a patient-led registry is an important step in getting services to become more equitable and accessible to South Africans living with cancer.
“And the key to unlocking quality, equitable and accessible care is accurate, valuable information. Decision-makers need statistics and insights to see the extent of the cancer burden in the country, and the challenges that people living with it face in order to plan and treat patients properly and effectively,” says Lillian Barnard, CEO of Microsoft South Africa.
Against this backdrop, Living with Cancer is aiming to get one million people living with cancer in South Africa registered on the patient-led cancer registry in 2022 as part of the #CountMeIn campaign. The campaign is aimed at driving all patients with cancer to register because as it currently stands, the South African government, oncology, medical and pharmaceutical industries in South Africa do not have an up-to-date data base of cancer patients.
The information will serve as a source of insight about the budget, planning and resources required around oncology treatment, medication and protocols.
“It is vital for all kinds of patients – diagnosed with any type of cancer and in different stages of their journey – to register, be counted and provide the type of information that healthcare professionals and decision-makers can utilise to drive change and ultimately transform cancer care in South Africa,” says Wagner.
“By registering and joining a community of people who understand exactly what each person is going through, we can give people hope and share resources that help them see that cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. We can then also focus on future technological enhancements where we can impact the community in a far greater manner by making information freely available.”