MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and the medical-behavioral technology company Polaris Health Directions have recently signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on a cancer pilot project employing the new Apple Watch to obtain behavioral data that could affect treatment and medical outcomes in breast cancer patients. This collaboration is based on MD Anderson Cooper’s expertise in the oncology field and Polaris’s expertise in behavioral health technology.
Polaris will use its Polestar system, a secure behavioral health outcome management (BHOM) platform that allows the collection of behavioral health data, providing relevant, actionable results and monitoring of a patient’s expected response to treatment. Polestar is the first predictive analytics engine capable of generating action-ready and important behavioral health insights. Now, with the Apple Watch, Polaris is moving into a new era of actionable data collection that can inform and improve proactive patient care.
“Our integrated BHOM platform has been helping to improve overall outcomes in patients throughout the U.S. via browsers and iPads. Through this breast cancer pilot, we hope to see even better patient outcomes with the addition of the Apple Watch,” said the Science Director of Polaris Labs, Dr. Tina Harralson in the press release. “Via our secure Polestar platform, behavioral data captured through the Apple Watch will combine with medical data from the patients’ electronic health records within the Cooper health system and population health data”. These data will include sleep information, side effects of the treatment, physical activity levels, patient mood, among other inputs. “Advanced analytics applied to this mix will result in meaningful and actionable insights for patients and their care teams as treatment progresses.” added Dr. Harralson.
“The impact of the integration of behavioral health in cancer care is significant. A positive frame of mind can help a patient through all phases of diagnosis and treatment,” noted the Director of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper Dr. Generosa Grana. “Patient engagement is 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.”
Polaris will be responsible for the development of the app, including the configuration, content design, monitoring and support for the wearables platform. MD Anderson Cooper will have the task to select breast cancer patients undergoing active treatment, provide support and personnel, and consult on product design and usability. MD Anderson Cooper health professionals are expected to review the data collected and provide patient support in accordance with the results obtained.
“Polaris and Cooper’s oncology team have been research partners for almost a decade and have collaborated on six studies related to behavioral health with funding from the National Institutes of Health. If results of this pilot prove promising, the partnership will pursue a National Cancer Institute research grant for a full-scale breast cancer project.” concluded Dr. Grana.