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A centralised patient engagement platform to minimise health inequalities and improve identification and engagement in bowel cancer screening


NHS Cancer Programme – Innovation Open Call – Competition 2

Name & role of Project Lead

Jonathan Selby, Managing Director, iPLATO Healthcare

LinkedIn: /iplato-ltd

Clinical Need

16,808 people in the UK die from bowel cancer each year. It is also the second most common cause of cancer death. The five year survival rate of bowel cancer is 97% at stage 1, 85% at stage 2, 63% at stage 3 and 7% at stage 4. iPLATO will increase uptake into bowel cancer screening services via tailored multi-channel screening communication at scale and home delivered Faecal Immunochemical Tests.

Proposed Solution

iPLATO’s platform sends multi-channel, demographic specific screening invitations at scale, utilising tailored reminders and digital educational content to boost uptake. Our solution increases screening uptake whilst reducing health inequalities and increasing earlier diagnosis of bowel cancer. This solution builds on existing bowel cancer screening services, focusing on those at higher risk of health inequalities and lower screening uptake. This includes those with lower socio-economic status and ethnic minority groups, and people with serious mental health issues. Our key USPs and patient benefits are:

• Identification of target population for those most in need of bowel cancer screening.

• Communication to eligible people through GP-endorsed communications.

• Delivery of digital educational resources tailored to each demographic e.g. educational content will be designed for target patient cohorts to reduce misconceptions and overcome barriers, to improve confidence to uptake screening.

• Measuring results and comparing to historical uptake rates across population cohorts.

Market Traction and Implementation

• iPLATO is a UK healthcare technology company, founded 20 years ago, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Huma. Huma is a UK headquartered healthcare technology company with international operations in Europe, USA and China.

• iPLATO is currently providing patient engagement programmes for both Cervical & Bowel cancer screening for NHS London and for NHS East of England. The technology has also been adapted for use with National Diabetes Prevention Programmes and Diabetes Structured Education in London and Greater Manchester.

• This programme is being undertaken in partnership with the South East London Cancer Alliance
(SELCA) who are providing support and guidance, including evaluation, metrics and feedback. SELCA are also leading the introduction of the programme to South East London GP Practice leads across SEL to ensure the successful onboarding of GP practices to the programme.

• iPLATO is also working with the NHS England screening Research, Innovation and Development Advisory Committee (RIDAC) to ensure that the data sharing and patient communication process is secure and beneficial.

• Guy's Cancer Academy (GCA), with support from NHS South East London ICB and SELCA are leading the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) with leaders from the targeted communities, patients from these communities, and clinical experts. GCA are also creating the educational content for the programme.

Impact - early detection and diagnosis of cancer

• Our clinical outcomes from similar projects (e.g. cervical cancer screening uptake) show increased uptake from health inequality groups and improved patient data.

• Cervical screening attendance increased by 100% in the NHS East of England region. Following six months of using iPLATO’s Population Health Service results showed:

  • 29,000 extra screenings. Those who received programme communications were twice as likely to attend a screening compared to those who only received a letter.

  • Earlier attendance of 17 days. Those who received a reminder attended their screening sooner.

  • Equal success within deprived communities. Engagement methods achieved equal increases in screening attendance.

Impact - Patient outcomes and experience

Our previous deployment to improve cervical cancer screening uptake in the NHS East of England showed:

• Increased uptake by 5-10%: Saving lives and achieving financial savings of £43m.

• Improved patient experience, with confidence scores increasing two-fold to engage in the East of England cervical cancer screening programme, when compared with traditional GP letter invitations.~

• Indices of multiple deprivation (IMD) Decile 1 attendance scores increased by x1.89 to engage in East of England cervical cancer screening programmes, when compared with traditional GP letter invitations.

Impact - Service delivery

• For all cancers, the earlier detection of cancer reduces the cost of treatment. For example, the average cost to the NHS per person diagnosed with stage 2 or later cervical cancer is £19,261, compared to £1,379 for those diagnosed at stage 1a (Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust data, 2017).

• For this project, the objective is to increase bowel screening uptake by 5% to 10% (based on past evidence). At a national scale this would result in savings to the NHS of £13m to £26m.

Clinician Quote

"I believe this innovative collaboration with iPLATO will meaningfully benefit these four patient groups. We know that early identification of cancer has the greatest impact on cancer survival."

Professor Arnie Purushotham, Director, King’s Health Partners Cancer Centre, King’s College London, and Consultant Surgeon, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, representing SELCA

NHS England Quote

"When we sent an SMS reminder, women were twice as likely to attend screening than those who were only sent a letter."

Samar Pankanti, Public Health System Transformation Lead, NHS England

Community Leader Quote

"I welcome this important programme which I strongly believe is the start of an important health initiative within our community."

Pastor Modupe Afolabi, Executive Director, Redeemed Christian Church of God

Date Published

September 2023


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