Breast Cancer Patients to Embark on Pilot Study Using Apple Watch

Polaris Health Directions and MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper Leverage Wearable Technology to emPOWER a New Generation of Support for Breast Cancer Patients

CAMDEN, NJ. December 1, 2015 – Breast cancer patients at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper are taking part in an integrated medical-behavioral health pilot project using the Apple Watch to capture behavioral health data that could affect the courses and outcomes of treatment for breast cancer patients.

The project is a joint effort between MD Anderson at Cooper and behavioral health technology company Polaris Health Directions of Wayne, Pa. The study will combine wearable technology with Polaris’s behavioral health outcomes management platform. Polaris’s proprietary, advanced technology captures and analyzes data to provide meaningful, actionable reporting for monitoring treatment progress and intervening, as necessary, throughout the continuum of care.

“The impact of the integration of behavioral health in cancer care is significant; a positive frame of mind can help patients through all phases of their diagnosis and treatment,” said Generosa Grana, MD, FACP, director of the MD Anderson at Cooper. “Patient engagement is a critical factor in successful treatment plans. We expect that this pilot project will help us gather important telemetry data to observe how patients are interacting with the Apple Watch and app so that we can provide the best user experience,” she added. “Ultimately, this data collection will benefit the patients by allowing us to refine their treatment plans even more.”

Patients taking part in the study 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.

“Our vision at Polaris is to unite the power of technology with leading edge behavioral health research to transform patient outcomes — in this case, the lives of women who are currently undergoing breast cancer treatment,” says Mark Anthony, chief executive officer of Polaris. “MD Anderson at Cooper has long been aligned with this vision. We knew they were the perfect partners for this pilot and look forward to making a positive impact on patient quality of life together.”

According to Cori McMahon, PsyD, director of Behavioral Medicine at MD Anderson at Cooper, 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.”

The study will last 9 months.

About Polaris Health Directions

Polaris Health Directions is a behavioral health technology company dedicated to delivering innovative integrated medical-behavioral health solutions. Founded in 1997, Polaris has almost two decades of focused experience supported by more than $13 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health in partnership with preeminent universities and hospital systems.

About MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, created in a partnership between Cooper University Healthcare and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, provides cancer patients with a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment and a full range of supportive services. Patients benefit from MD Anderson’s proven treatment plans, expert clinicians and groundbreaking clinical trials. With multiple locations, including comprehensive cancer centers in Camden and Voorhees, N.J., the partnership offers patients from across the region convenient access to advanced cancer services.

Contact: Wendy A. Marano
Cooper University Health Care

Note: Polaris Health Directions is a trademark of Polaris Health Directions. Any other names of actual companies, organizations, entities, products or services may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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