The Background:

My initial, unqualified view was that there is a problem related to people's perception of the risks of some kinds of cancers, in particular skin cancer, from my own anecdotal experience. It didn't take very long to find an article reinforcing this viewpoint.

All cancers can be fatal if not detected or treated properly, but a new poll has revealed that people worry less about skin cancer because they don’t think it’s as bad or as serious.

Some 53% are less concerned about getting skin cancer than other forms of the disease and 18% think it can be easily avoided, the survey of 5,000 people for theBritish Skin Foundation found.

Almost four in 10 (38%) do not realise that skin cancer can lead to death, while 56% do not know that malignant melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer - can spread to other parts of the body such as the liver and brain.

Dermatological surgeon Dr Bav Shergill said: “Skin cancer kills seven people in the UK every day and rates of malignant melanoma continue to rise faster than any other type of common cancer.

”In fact, there are more cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year than any other form of cancer in the UK. However, this research shows that people are often underestimating how serious the disease can be and the lasting impact it can leave on lives.”
— http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/19/people-dont-take-skin-cancer-seriously-_n_4992759.html

My second view was that I suspected that there would be a significant proportion of the population that

a) Didn't check themselves regularly for lumps, check their moles and other less-well-known risk areas for signals of problems.

b) If they did find something not quite right, the chance of them seeking professional medical advice were slim and that the rates for the population would be low.


Only around a third (36%) of people polled admitted checking their skin or moles for changes that can indicate skin cancer, while 35% say they did not know what they were looking for.

Just a quarter (25%) would get a mole checked by their GP straight away if they noticed a change, while 8% would wait for it to get noticeably worse.

More than a third (34%) were unaware that skin cancer can appear on any part of the body - including under nails and the soles of feet - while 18% were unaware that people of all skin types and colours can get skin cancer.
— http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/19/people-dont-take-skin-cancer-seriously-_n_4992759.html

ASIDE: The research was from the British Skin Foundation and was only published by the HuffPo.

 

Product Hypothesis

My initial thinking was that an app could work to break down some of these barriers in a number of ways.

How would it work?

A user will register in the app and login.

The user will be able to add their friends as contacts from the list of users.

The user can capture a photo or video of the problem area.

The image is stored locally on the users device.

The user can send the image or video to a selection of their friends list as they see fit.

A friend will receive a notification that they have received a message from the user.

The friend will view the message containing a photo or video.

The viewing of the photo/video is time limited.

The friend will be invited to provide a form of simple feedback to the user "Check it" or "Look's Fine" (or something to that extent).

The image or video is removed from the Friend's inbox

If sent to multiple people, after the final friend has viewed the image, the image is destroyed on the server, unless...

The user opts in to a program for Lumpy to keep images and meta information (votes from friends), but remove the relationship between the image and the person, for the purposes of research (another post on that to come..).

How will this help? 

1. As a way to seek external advice about an area of concern, with minimal friction / commitment and maximum privacy protection.

2. Using social / peer pressure for follow up actions.

3. To learn from the images, using machine learning techniques, as a predictor for risk areas from photographic samples.

 

Designing the App

Initially, I'm going to start with primarily standard iOS7 UI components and gradually customise them and add more complex UI functionalities. Here goes....