MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and behavioural health technology company, Polaris Health Directions (Polaris) have teamed up on a breast cancer project using the Apple Watch.

The integrated health pilot project will use the Apple Watch to capture behavioural data that could affect care pathways and treatment outcomes for breast cancer patients.

The project will leverage Polaris’s Polestar behavioural health outcomes management (BHOM) platform– an advanced data-collection-and-analytics platform that outputs meaningful, actionable information for monitoring and reporting on a patient’s expected treatment response.

Using the Polestar platform, behavioural data collected through the Apple Watch will be integrated with medical data from the patients’ electronic health records (EHRs) within the Cooper health system. By incorporating behavioural health in cancer care, physicians can gain insight into a patient’s well-being outside of in-person consultation.

The 30 breast cancer patients participating in the pilot will be provided with an Apple Watch Sport 38mm with a pink strap to gather and submit data such as treatment side effects, sleep information, physical activity levels, patient mood and other inputs.

“The impact of the integration of behavioural health in cancer care is significant. A positive frame of mind can help a patient through all phases of diagnosis and treatment,” said Director of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and head of the division of hematology/medical oncology at Cooper University Hospital, Dr Generosa Grana, MD, FACP.

Dr Grana further added that patient engagement was a critical factor in successful treatment plans. “We expect using the Apple Watch will help increase engagement and collect data that ultimately allows us to further refine treatment plans,” said Dr Grana.

Polaris and Cooper’s oncology team collaborated on several studies related to behavioural health with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Based on the results of this pilot with Apple Watch, the partnership will pursue a National Cancer Institute research grant for a full-scale breast cancer project.

The Cooper Institutional Review Board will review and approve the pilot project. With the support of the board, MD Anderson Cooper and Polaris could then jointly publish project findings, at intervals yet to be determined.

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