BECCA App

BECCA’s Recommendation Engine

From research to care, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now put people affected by breast cancer at its heart providing support for today and hope for the future. United, the charity has the ability to carry out even more world-class research, provide even more life-changing support and campaign even more effectively for better services and care.

The charity launched the innovative BECCA app in 2017 to provide trustworthy and tailored information and support for people trying to adapt to daily life once hospital treatment ends.
The app provides users with daily information and inspiration from blogs, specialists and trusted online sources tailored to their interests. BECCA is free to download on iPhone and Android phones.

Skim Technologies has worked with Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now to create BECCA’s Recommendation Engine.

This combines user interaction feedback – i.e. whether the user clicked on or added articles to their ‘favourites’ – with the language and semantic content in those articles, before using that information to train a machine learning algorithm developed specifically for content recommendation.

We believe in the use of tech for good and Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now would like to tell you more about this great project.

Here is a Q&A session with Bernadette Morabito, Content and Marketing Officer for BECCA at the charity.

Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind BECCA? Where does it come from?


At Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, we know that the end of treatment is often the hardest part of breast cancer. Anxiety, fatigue, and fear about recurrence are just some of the difficulties people face while trying to adjust to daily life once hospital treatment ends.

BECCA is a digital innovation to support women to move forward after hospital treatment. The app is divided into categories, from beauty and exercise to concerns about side effects or symptoms of recurrence. The content of the app was developed by the charity with the support of healthcare professionals and women living with breast cancer.

BECCA offers bite-size flashcards with information, hints, tips and strategies from trusted sources to help people live well after treatment. Inspiring blogs and articles from women who’ve had a diagnosis also help BECCA users realise they’re not alone. The digital format enables us to reach thousands of women and ensures that support is accessible at the touch of a button at any time.


How many people were involved in the project and how was it developed?


We’ve worked with four main partners and in excess of 1,000 user testers on the BECCA project.
Through CAST’s Fuse accelerator programme, we identified the tech behaviours and unmet needs of our users, and developed the idea behind today’s app. We also worked closely with our BECCA product champions, a group of women with breast cancer, and BECCA users to come up with the app’s design and test its content.

Super Being Labs are our development partners and have lent their expertise in user-experience design and technical development. They have implemented a number of key developments and continue to work with us to improve the app and keep people affected by breast cancer at the heart of the process.

Together with our BECCA users, Super Being Labs helped us design a new feed in BECCA to deliver personalised content to each user.

Skim’s machine learning algorithms help us source content that’s relevant for our users and tailor the content they receive each day in their personalised BECCA feed. We’ve also worked with Yodel Mobile, who selected us for their charity app marketing initiative. They have helped us drive greater visibility for the app so that more people find support from BECCA.


What were your challenges?


In the early stages, one challenge was securing sufficient funding to help us realise our project aims. We were eventually successful in a three-year funding bid from the National Lottery Community Fund.


Other challenges have included increasing the discoverability of BECCA in a crowded market place with a limited marketing budget, the scalability of content creation with a small content team, and with around 600,000 people living after a diagnosis of breast cancer in the UK, trying to reach as many of those who need support as possible.

What do you believe are the benefits of implementing AI-powered tools in organisations like yours?


AI-powered tools can help organisations be more efficient with their time and resources. There’s an abundance of breast cancer-related information on the web, so having a content system that can search and filter these sources is helpful. As a result, we’ve been able to double the amount of new cards we publish on BECCA every week.


Using AI has also increased the relevancy of the content we’re presenting to our BECCA users. Based on what cards BECCA users read or ‘favourite’ in the app, AI allows us to present meaningful, personalised suggestions of information or blogs each day.

Best moment during the project/Something you’ve learned during the project:


Implementing personalisation in the app, with the help of Skim’s machine learning model, was a really important moment. It means that BECCA will become more meaningful for each user as the app learns their likes and interests and they will be offered trustworthy information tailored to their needs.

From our workshops, which discovered what users wanted personalisation to look like, to seeing the co-created design come into play, we’ve learnt that keeping our users involved will help ensure the service offers the best support possible for women affected by breast cancer.

Our Team

Working with the Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now team is always a pleasure; I’m so glad the BECCA app is proving such a success – and the project was all the more rewarding given it is in such a good cause.

Edward, Data Scientist at Skim

It is a pleasure to work for a company that contributes to freely to the betterment of other people. Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now is a very good cause and a pleasure to work with.

Graham, DevOps at Skim


Our mission

Skim’s mission is to empower people to use data more effectively and to demystify artificial intelligence. Rather than holding up the common narrative of machines replacing humans, we see how machines can help humans to have easier lives and better businesses.

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