Cancer center and tech co. test Apple Watch in breast-cancer patients

The Apple Watch Sport 38mm with pink strap
The Apple Watch Sport 38mm with pink strap

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, a cancer hospital in New Jersey, and behavioral health technology company Polaris Health Directions will strap Apple Watches on breast-cancer patients to see if the smartwatches refine treatment plans and improve outcomes.

Polaris will develop a data-gathering app for the Apple Watch Sport, which breast-cancer patients will receive to help them track behavioral data like treatment side effects, sleep information, activity levels and mood. MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper will select patients to participate in the project. The two organizations will jointly publish project findings.

“Patient engagement is a critical factor in successful treatment plans,” said Dr. Generosa Grana, director of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper. “We expect using the Apple Watch will help increase engagement and collect data that ultimately allows us to further refine treatment plans.”

MD Anderson healthcare professionals will review and analyze captured data using Polaris's Polestar—a behavioral health outcomes management platform. HCPs will then offer patient support based on that analysis. MD Anderson's director of behavioral medicine, Cori McMahon, will be the medical project lead on the pilot.

A number of healthcare companies recently rolled out their own Apple Watch apps since its launch in April—including physician network Doximity and media companies WebMD and Everyday Health.