MD Anderson starts pilot breast cancer study using Apple Watch

The Apple Watch--Courtesy of Apple

Wearables hold the promise of better understanding and addressing the myriad facets of the patient experience. In the latest effort to make that vision a reality, researchers are starting a 9-month study of breast cancer patients using the Apple Watch to capture basic health data alongside treatment information and various aspects of patient health. The study is being conducted by the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper using an app that was developed by behavioral health tech company Polaris Health.

Dubbed emPOWER, the app will record patient experiences during specific times in the treatment cycle. Patients can not only monitor their own mindset, they can also connect to other patients as well as healthcare providers via the Apple Watch app. It tracks behavioral health data including treatment side effects, sleep information, physical activity levels, patient mood and other information.

"Our vision … 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," said Polaris CEO Mark Anthony in a statement.

Study participants will receive a customized Apple Watch. The app uses Apple's HealthKit to access health metrics that are brought together with other data collected via the app. The pilot study is expected to gather data that can be used to improve patient outcomes as well as their quality of life during treatment.

"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 Dr. Generosa Grana, director of the MD Anderson Cancer Center 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."

- here is the announcement