Back in May, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper announced it was teaming up with behavioral health technology company Polaris Health Directions (Polaris) on an behavioral health pilot project using the Apple Watch to help improve breast cancer treatment outcomes. This week, the pilot project officially kicked off reaching patient hands (wrists) for the first time via the Apple Watch.
The partnership brings together MD Anderson Cooper’s expertise in oncology and Polaris’s deep experience in behavioral health science and innovative technology. It will leverage Polaris’s Polestar behavioral health outcomes management (BHOM) platform–an advanced data-collection-and-analytics platform that provides meaningful, actionable results for reporting on and monitoring of a patient’s expected treatment response.
Apple Watch Breast Cancer Pilot Details
Patients taking part in the nine month-long study each receive a customized Apple Watch and will use Polaris’s emPOWER app to record their experiences during specific times in their treatment cycle. Through emPOWER, patients will gain insights into changes in their mindset as they progress through treatment. They can also use the app to connect to other cancer patients, and reach out in real-time to their care team and other members of their patient cohort for both clinical and social support.
The emPOWER app monitors patients’ behavioral health data such as treatment side effects, sleep information, physical activity levels, patient mood and other measurable information captured through the Apple Watch. By collecting and analyzing pertinent behavioral health data, one of the app’s central goals is to improve quality of life for cancer patients. The app leverages Apple’s robust iOS HealthKit API to access relevant patient physical health metrics that are used in correlation with the data collected via emPOWER to improve patient outcomes.
Adjustments to lifestyle changes and uncertainty are among the most significant challenges facing cancer patients. “I think a huge piece of addressing the uncertainty felt by cancer patients is advancing their health literacy. When patients are able to monitor their own behaviors, they are able to better understand the correlations between those behaviors and how they are feeling, and even change those behaviors to improve their quality of life,” said Cori McMahon, PsyD, director of Behavioral Medicine at MD Anderson at Cooper.