15 August 2022

An innovative digital tool to improve access to cancer services

Three alumni UICC Young Leaders work to reducing disparities in cancer care in low-income settings with the development of culturally sensitive AI-powered applications.

Hurone AI is “an early-stage digital health startup” led by Founder and Chief Strategist Dr Kingsley I. Ndoh, a UICC Young Leader (2019) and a clinical faculty at the University of Washington Department of Global Health as well as an Affiliate Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where Hurone AI is based.

The advancement in precision medicine and artificial intelligence (AI) is accelerating progress in cancer care in high-income countries, with the risk of widening the significant disparities that already exists in cancer treatment and survival between high- and lower-income settings. Hurone AI’s aim is to design innovative solutions for sub-Saharan Africa that take into account the region’s resources and cultural specificities.

The organisation is running a beta test in Rwanda of its flagship Guzika digital health app, which is driven by data sources from people of African descent and incorporates remote patient monitoring, navigation and tele-oncology. The app is being deployed in smartphone version as well as USSD, a mobile communications protocol used to send messages similarly to SMS). 

“There is a growing body of evidence that shows that remote monitoring of cancer patients using digital devices, in addition to having patient reported outcomes, improves treatment compliance and completion, reduces hospitalizations, and ultimately has a survival benefit. The goal with deploying a test version of Guzika in Rwanda is to determine product-market fit, usability, acceptability, and overall user experience. We would be updating the app in real-time as we learn from the field. Additionally, it will enable us to have a training dataset to develop AI algorithms to drive certain capabilities in our system in the second version." 
–    Dr Kingsley I. Ndoh, Founder and Chief Strategist, Hurone AI

Hurone AI is partnering with the African Center for Research on End of Life care (ACREOL), which is coordinating and implementing Hurone’s activities in Rwanda. ACREOL is led by UICC Young Leader (2016), Dr Christian Ntizimira, Founder and Executive Director of ACREOL and a Harvard and Fulbright alumnus. 

Hurone AI is also working closely with Dr Francois Uwinkindi, Non-Communicable Diseases Division Manager at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and also a UICC Young Leader. Dr Uwinkindi oversees RBC’s programmes in non-communicable diseases, and is liaising with the Rwanda Ministry of Health for final approval of Guzika for its use and coverage by the Rwandan health insurance system.

Kingsley notes that his long-term vision for Hurone AI is to harness the power of African cancer data to personalize every aspect of cancer control from prevention, treatment, follow up and survivorship. 

“Addressing the cancer data gap is a herculean but necessary step that we will employ in designing innovative solutions to several gaps in the cancer control continuum and ultimately improve outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.”
–    Dr Kingsley I. Ndoh, Founder and Chief Strategist, Hurone AI

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Thursday 13 April 2023

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