MD Anderson Cancer Center launches the Apple Watch pilot

Polaris Health

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper has officially started its earlier announced Apple Watch pilot. In collaboration with Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Polaris Health Directions, the cancer center is distributing 30 Apple Watches to patients in various stages of treatment for breast cancer.

The cancer center is distributing 30 Apple Watches to patients in various stages of treatment for breast cancer.As part of the study, an Apple Watch app called emPower was developed to enable users to answer quick multiple-choice questions about their mood, symptoms, possible treatment side effects (like headaches or nausea), and more. The provider on its end will capture activity and heart rate data to anticipate potential issues before they worsen and intervene sooner. Also, they hope to use the Watch as a communication device to help improve patients’ experiences.

“It’s just as much about self-discovery as it is about patient care from the provider standpoint,” Mark Redlus, senior vice president at the Polaris Innovation Lab, told MobiHealthNews. “That’s really been pushed to the next level. The idea that information that’s being collected on your activity level, steps you’re taking, heart rate, physically what you’ve been able to do that day … and then looking at how that’s affecting mood, anxiety, distress, and being able to see those interactions themselves and being able to see that [for instance] when the activity level is high, stress levels tend to be lower. And being able to look at those visually and understand those are happening at the same time is something we look forward to seeing and we hope that it really changes not just the treatment regimen, but the overall patient wellbeing and how they feel throughout this process.”

The nine-month project is a feasibility study, so it’s still an open question to what degree cancer patients will be interested in engaging. The 30-patient group ranges in age from mid-30s to late 70s, so it should help answer some questions about demographic barriers to engagement.