Cedars-Sinai to use Fitbit Charge HR in a small trial of cancer patients

Fitbit Charge HR

Chemotherapy patients should be moving in order for the treatment to work properly. However, there is a problem in assessing how much patients are really active — just to ask them won’t do it for a number of reasons. To solve this, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center wants to use the Fitbit Charge HR wearable to determine if it can help oncologists assess whether their patients are active enough for chemotherapy.

“What we know is that individuals who are up and about tend to be more able to tolerate chemotherapy and have a greater potential for benefitting from it,” Dr. Arvind Shinde, a faculty physician in the departments of Supportive Care Medicine and Hematology and Oncology at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, told MobiHealthNews. “People who are spending more time in bed usually get harmed by the treatment we give, even if the cancer is responsive to the treatment.”

Beyond moving, Shinde and his team also want to see whether the combination of a Fitbit device and questionnaires can help physicians screen patients for things like fatigue, distress, pain, and trouble sleeping, which patients can underreport.

The small, mainly feasibility study will enroll 30 adult patients in advanced stages of cancer who are ambulatory, and have an internet-connected smartphone. All 30 participants will be given a Fitbit Charge HR and asked to wear it at all times for two weeks. They will also have to fill out questionnaires at two oncologist visits during the trial period, and again at a six month follow-up. Meanwhile, researchers will review mortality and hospitalization for the subjects.

The small, mainly feasibility study will enroll 30 adult patients in advanced stages of cancer who are ambulatory.“The next step will be to do a larger study across multiple tumor types and follow people longitudinally for a much longer period of time,” Shinde said. “We can see how they do as they progress through their treatments, follow their ups and downs. We’ll be able to get changes over baseline and create a better algorithm for this assessment.”

Next time, however, researcher may opt to use some other device. During the setup, they had problems integrating the data collected from Fitbit’s device to the Epic EHR. Since Fitbit doesn’t integrate with Apple’s HealthKit platform, they had to find a third party solution to push information collected by the Fitbit app into the EHR system.

In the meantime, Shinde wants to have the data collected in a few weeks and ready to share in a few months.