Greater Manchester Council and NHS


i-Can (Cancer Vanguard Web App)

Co-creating a new digital platform for supported self-management of cancer.

One of the main aims of the Greater Manchester Cancer Vanguard programme is to support secondary prevention of cancer through encouraging effective self-care methods. They wanted to encourage people who have suffered from cancer, to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing by sharing resources, planning their own activity and driving a movement focused on cancer prevention across Greater Manchester.

Objectives of the brief

1. To enable people to participate in technology enabled self-management to support their cancer treatment and post-cancer recovery.

2. To provide people with helpful resources, information and advice to enable them to effectively self-care.

3. To enable healthcare professionals to support self-care education by using digital technology.

4. To encourage a social movement of ‘Cancer Champions’ to encourage cancer patients to self-care.

It was clear from the beginning that this project needed to be heavily insight-led in order to be successful. Throughout every stage of the process we conducted research to understand exactly what cancer patients wanted and needed from a digital platform, in order to effectively self-care.

The website needed to be easy to navigate and welcoming to users. We found, through talking to patients, that ‘over design’ or over use of unnecessary use of imagery can be patronising and frustrating. They wanted to access information quickly and a new platform needed to feel like personal aid or directory.

We structured the resources into clear sections with easily identifiable icons. We kept the design clear and simple to allow it to evolve over time. We decided against using images, as we found that cancer patients wanted something different to what was already available – something that didn’t remind them of their illness. We also decided to include the option to change the colour theme of the page, to encourage users to see the page as their own personal bank of resources.

It was really important that the web platform encouraged, informed and supported patients, whilst ensuring it wasn’t patronising or insensitive. We knew from insight that patients were tired of language such as ‘fighting’ and ‘battling’ cancer. We chose iCan, as we felt it was motivational and hinted to the subject of cancer recovery, without being overly explicit.

Mapping out thousands of local and national resources, we were able to populate iCan so that results were returned in a search engine like way. It was important to us to ensure local influencers were seen and heard amongst national information. Therefore we included everything from local vloggers and podcasts amongst national national brands, ensuring information was both accurate and real.