Lancaster business students help eHealth group’s cancer patient app development

A pair of Lancaster University Master's students provided valuable research and insight to aid an international IT business with the development of a new app to help cancer patients.

Xinyi Huang and Neelabh Gupta, both members of the MSc Ebusiness and Innovation programme (now MSc Digital Business Innovation and Management [DBIM]), engaged in a consulting project on eHealth applications with the healthcare IT company Parsek Information Technologies GmbH, who are headquartered in Vienna, with bases across Europe, including in London.

Remote healthcare is an area which has come to popular attention in the past 18 months, as the Covid-19 pandemic has restricted the ability of patients to meet with physicians and clinicians in-person in the same way as they have done previously.

The Lancaster students, supervised by Dr Emily Winter, explored consumer eHealth applications for cancer patients in the UK, providing the company with ‘valuable takeaways’ for the UK market regarding patient experience and expectations for using an app for diagnostics, check-ups and follow-up appointments, among other areas.

“We've always been inspired by the drive of bright young minds passionate about making a difference in the healthcare system,” said Špela Uršič Bensa, Head of Product Management at Parsek. “For us, mentorship is always a two-way street where everyone involved can learn and grow.

“They prepared an insightful consulting project report with some valuable takeaways in terms of understanding the value proposition, maturity and market trends of cancer apps on the UK market.”

Dr Amjad Fayoumi, Deputy Director DBIM in Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), said such consultancy projects with LUMS students and industry provided benefits for both sides.

“Whenever we work on projects such as this, the students will look to understand the needs of both the client and the patients and then translate these needs into formal requirements,” Dr Fayoumi said. “They will focus on design requirements and how they are implemented in the app, as well as what sort of things are needed to improve its effective use.

“They tried to understand what patients are looking for, and how telemedicine apps can help patients get what they need in terms of check-ups, follow-ups, maybe even diagnostics.

“They tried to match between those requirements and the capabilities and restrictions of the technology to say what needs to be implemented and what technologies might be helpful in order to deliver what is needed by the patients.”

Dr Fayoumi added: “Parsek were very happy with the results of the consultancy. Our students always go to great lengths to meet the goals of the organisations we work with, and provide them with results they can apply in industry, while gaining insights invaluable to their own education.”