The trial will enable physicians to monitor patients’ vital signs remotely
“It will help us to identify ways that clinical staff can individualise treatment before, during, and after therapy. We will find out if 24/7 data from these wearable sensors can be used to support patient recovery and provide accurate measurement outside clinic.” Dr Michael Merchant, senior lecturer in proton therapy physics, at the University of Manchester
Patients with cancer have begun taking part in a trial in Greater Manchester to evaluate wearable technologies.
The trial, which is called EMBRaCE (Enhanced Monitoring for Better Recovery and Cancer Experience), is s a collaboration between Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, and the University of Manchester.
Patients will wear health sensors and devices to monitor their vital signs, including heart rate, heart rhythm and electrical activity, temperature, physical activity levels and sleep. The data collected is then sent wirelessly to physicians.
The technologies being evaluated are all commercial products and include: a smart ring designed by Oura, which monitors heart rate and sleep; a hybrid smartwatch called the Withings ScanWatch, which combines time-telling with the ability to monitor vital signs; and the Isansys system, which can be worn on a patient’s chest to record heart signals.
Participants all have blood, lung or colorectal cancer. The trial is sponsored by the GM Cancer Digital Innovation Fund, UK Research and Innovation, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), in collaboration with Aptus Clinical and Zenzium.
Dr Anthony Wilson, a consultant in anaesthesia and critical care at Manchester Royal Infirmary and clinical lead for the trial, said: “Cancer places a huge burden on the lives of people everywhere. This study uses cutting-edge technology that can monitor people during their treatment, with devices that they can wear all the time.”
Dr Michael Merchant, senior lecturer in proton therapy physics at the University of Manchester, said that the trial would assess “if the latest wearable technology has a role in cancer care,” adding: “It will help us to identify ways that clinical staff can individualise treatment before, during, and after therapy. We will find out if 24/7 data from these wearable sensors can be used to support patient recovery and provide accurate measurement outside clinic.”
Merchant said that the trial could “even support the development of new cancer treatments by developing a digital platform for clinical trials in cancer involving wearable devices or fitness trackers.”
Steve Sweeney, a cancer survivor and chair of the group of patients advising the project, said: “A cancer diagnosis is fraught with a variety of challenges for patients, way beyond the clinical treatment pathway itself.
“We know patients have anxiety around ongoing monitoring and the gap between GP and hospital cancer care, issues with fatigue and sleep disturbance, problems maintaining fitness and the need for greater psychological support.
“The EMBRaCE programme addresses these challenges head on, allowing participants to take more proactive control of their cancer journey through wearables and the data they provide clinicians. These patient pioneers will help shape the future of cancer care in the UK.”