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Real World Evidence – The Art of the Possible

DATA-CAN’s scientific lead, Professor Mark Lawler, presented at the BioIndustry Association UK Bioscience Forum on the use of Real World Evidence in helping to transform cancer services

When most of the world went into lockdown in March due to the COVID-19 emergency, health services across the UK understandably repurposed activity to deal with an increase in COVID patients needing inpatient care and support. The worry for many working in the NHS, and scientists like me who deploy data to help inform the delivery of health services, was that patients with other potentially life threatening illnesses were staying away from their GP or hospital for fear of catching the virus.  There was even talk that people were fearing a COVID-19 diagnosis more than a diagnosis of cancer. This nagging worry was based on anecdotal evidence of course – something that scientists never like to rely on. But at the time there was no data available to tell us whether it was actually true or not.