Putting Patient Perspectives at the heart of cancer care
Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate new patient insights in breast cancer
White Paper
Feb 09, 2018

Thanks to earlier diagnosis and improved treatment, cancer patients are living longer and healthier lives. However, cancer will present significant challenges in the years to come, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Asia.

Asia now accounts for half of the global burden of cancer, and the World Health Organization predicts that incidence will rise from 6.8 million cases in 2012 to 10.8 million in 2030. Incidence of breast cancer alone in Asia is predicted to increase from 651,000 cases in 2012 to 920,000 by 2030, constituting over a third of the global total.

This challenge has both a human and a financial dimension. Too many people will have their lives affected or cut short by cancer, and the costs of cancer will continue to grow. It is therefore vital that we target investment on the support, services and treatments which will make the biggest difference to patients, maximizing the value of cancer care.

It is impossible to do this without understanding the issues that cancer patients face, along with their needs and preferences. There are a range of different ways to capture the perspective of patients, ranging from surveys of experiences or quality of life, to advisory and focus groups. However, technological advances create opportunities to supplement these existing methods, drawing on the experiences and activities of large numbers of patients in their everyday lives.

This report documents the approach and findings of a pilot initiated by IQVIA which used an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to explore the key priorities and concerns of breast cancer patients in Singapore. The pilot analyzed online activity among the Singaporean population over the past two years, evaluating more than 46,000 unique online activity patterns to derive insights. It is estimated that these activities were generated by approximately 7,000 people affected by cancer.

This is the first AI study of its kind, breaking new ground in the field of value-based cancer care. The purpose of this report is to provide recommendations on how AI can be used by policymakers, as well as providers of cancer treatment and information services, to make decisions based on the real life needs and preferences of patients.


The findings from the pilot confirm many of the quality of life issues established in the research literature and reaffirm the importance of tailoring support and services to individual patients. Breast cancer patients are not a homogenous group, and encounter specific needs and challenges that are unique to each stage.

Patients with early stage (1 and 2) breast cancer appear to seek further support with:
  • Advice on insurance and treatment costs
  • Information on Emergency Department
  • Enhanced information on side effects of treatment
Patients with advanced stage (3 and 4) breast cancer appear to seek further support with:
  • Advice about financial affairs
  • Information on outpatient appointments and logistics such as car parking
  • Enhanced information on pain management
  • Support on managing family relationships
  • Support on managing sleep
There are also some common areas where support may be required, including:
  • Improved support on depression, stress and anxiety
  • Information on treatments appropriate to stage
  • Information on breast cancer and patient support groups
  • Enhanced workplace support
  • Information on appropriate physical activity
  • Access to spiritual and religious support where this is requested

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