Scientific Design, Development of Polaris’s Oncology Distress Management System Published in Contemporary Clinical Trials

This paper offers insight into the scientific foundation, development and implementation methods of the Polaris Oncology Distress Management System.

Langhorne, PA, May 15, 2013 --( Polaris Health Directions is pleased to announce the publication of a new article on its innovative oncology distress management system in the peer-reviewed journal Contemporary Clinical Trials.

This paper focuses on the design and methodology of a randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of Polaris’s patient-centered, Web-based oncology distress management system on outcomes at 2, 6 and 12 months. It reflects the conscientious efforts of the research team to incorporate feedback from cancer patients, mental health providers, and oncologists and their staff into the final design of the system to ensure its clinical compatibility and utility.

The authors offer insight into the scientific foundation of the system, as well as on the challenges faced and overcome during the development and implementation. They also report on the collection of normative data that will enrich the existing database and improve a provider’s ability to determine the level of a patient’s overall psychological distress in comparison to other similar patients.

The study included more than 800 cancer patients with a range of diagnoses who were being treated at three cancer centers within the United States: the University of Massachusetts Medical School Cancer Center, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey at Cooper Hospital and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The participants were divided into intervention and control groups. All participants completed an initial psychosocial assessment. Only those patients in the intervention group received personalized feedback reports detailing their psychosocial needs; their oncologists received detailed “lab” reports to help guide clinical decision making.

The “intervention” patients were also provided with a list of referrals to any necessary mental health or support group services. For those patients who chose the “automated referral” option, the system selected a mental health professional based on the patient’s psychosocial needs, zip code and insurance. It then electronically transmitted a copy of the patient’s report to the “best matched” provider who was required to contact the patient for an appointment within five days.

Now that all follow-up data from the trial has been collected, future reports on this study will focus on patient outcomes, including overall psychological distress, depression, anxiety, functional disability and use of psychosocial resources.

The research team included Polaris staff members and researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The paper appeared in print in the May issue.

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Full reference: O'Hea EL, Cutillo AS, Dietzen L, Harralson T, & Boudreaux ED. (May 2013). The Mental Health and Dynamic Referral for Oncology (MHADRO): Methodology of a multi-site Randomized Control Trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 35(1): 15-24.

The project described was supported by Award Number 5R42MH78432-4 from the National Institute for Mental Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute for Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

About Polaris Health Directions

Polaris recognizes that organizations cannot manage what they do not measure. Many behavioral health care providers and payers may not be collecting and analyzing enough of the right data to answer basic questions about the cost-effectiveness of the care they offer. Polaris's advanced technology and science driven assessment systems are designed to capture the clinical data essential to quality improvement and enhanced organizational management. Polaris solutions provide advanced analytics to help organizations improve and demonstrate to their customers the value of their care. With a focus on prediction, Polaris solutions do more than describe clinical change. Polaris systems also indicate if treatment is likely to have a positive result. Helping organizations make better decisions in the present by anticipating the future will be the difference in reducing their costs while improving patient care.
Polaris Health Directions
Jesse Nankin