Examination of patient needs: oncological therapy

One day in the life of a cancer patient

Meet the case study of a difficult exploratory study that we conducted to learn about the needs of people with cancer.

Defining the problem

Cancer directly or indirectly affects almost everyone. In 2010, over 140,000 people in Poland received this diagnosis. These numbers are still growing, as are the problems faced by those affected by this disease. Many solutions have already been created that deal with problems in the therapeutic process or information overload. However, all these solutions, in one way or another, are unfortunately ineffective.e.

To help cancer patients, we undertook started exploratory research. Set out below is a history of what we were able to do.

Objectives of the exploratory research:

We set the following goals:
1. Build empathy by understanding and exploring the subject.
2. Identifying the biggest problems and the most significant "Pain points".
3. Creating and testing the solution.


diagram of the process of exploratory research of the patient's needs in oncological therapy
Exploratory studies of the patient's needs in oncology

We wanted our first step to be understanding and building empathy. As people who have no direct contact with patients, we conducted a series of interviews with specialists in the field of oncology, as well as with patients and psycho-oncologists. Thanks to this, we have created a deeper understanding of what the patient's life looks like during treatment.

Interview results from exploratory studies are on the path below:

Schematic presentation of the results of patient exploratory studies in oncological therapy
The results of the interviews can be presented using the following path

In this way we understood that the first problem for patients is related to obtaining information about treatment. It may result from an overload of bad news, structural problems in the health care system, or the emotions associated with information about the disease.

human icon with examples of oncological patient problems
A deeper analysis of the subject of exploratory research scheme

After the interviews, we decided on a deeper analysis on the topic of the treatment process. We conducted workshops during which, together with invited specialists and patients, we considered the context of therapeutic steps and their emotional effects. So we built a map of the patient's path in treatment. We included elements such as information, knowledge and emotions. After the workshops, we already knew where the holes and deficiencies in the patient's experience were, and therefore the places where they faced the biggest problems.

Oncological patient therapy path map
Exploratory research workshops in oncological therapy


From that moment, our path was almost straight - we simply had to find solutions to the problems we defined. Through iteration on our original idea, we arrived at one solution that was suitable for testing with users.

Anna Kupiecka and Adrianna Sobol from the Oncocafe foundation
Experts involved in research

To conduct the test, we contacted various patients at various stages of treatment. Together with them, we went through clickable prototypes, finding the greatest values and disadvantages. To obtain additional information, we talked to patients about their needs and experiences in treatment. The biggest problem during testing was to discuss the private experience of patients with their healthcare. We used these memories to put our tests in the right context - one that would be closer to real life.

At this point, we want to build a public solution in the belief that we will help patients on their difficult paths.

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