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Published on September 05, 2014

Mercy, Polaris Health Directions Partner

Will Launch New Distress Management Program for Cancer Patients

Mercy Health System is setting a new standard for excellence in cancer care with its implementation of a comprehensive psychosocial distress management program for patients.

About 20 to 40 percent of cancer patients experience a concerning level of distress, which can interfere with their treatment and impact their quality of life. Unfortunately, the intense demands of cancer treatment can mean that a patient’s distress may not be as obvious to the team of physicians and staff caring for them. 

This summer, Polaris Health Directions launched the implementation of the Polaris Oncology Distress Management System at Mercy Fitzgerald, Mercy Philadelphia, Mercy Suburban and Nazareth Hospitals. The system will help enhance the holistic care that Mercy provides to each cancer patient, by addressing not just their physical health, but emotional health as well. 

“We strive to customize a treatment plan for each patient that addresses their medical history, symptoms, feelings and concerns,” said Rene Rothstein-Rubin, MD, FACP of Mercy Oncology and a clinical associate professor of medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine. “The Polaris Oncology Distress Management System will help bring us to the next level of providing person-centered care by helping to identify patients who may need additional services, such as pain management, palliative care, spiritual care, mental health services, and social work.” 

The cloud-based Polaris Oncology is a scientifically validated platform that screens for psychosocial distress, assesses its severity, generates referrals and individualized reports, and monitors the patient throughout the course of treatment. 

"Distress assessment is a unique tool that adds a dimension of care for our patients, allowing us to understand their experience from a whole-person perspective. By allowing us to get the best sense of how cancer diagnosis and treatment can affect a patient, this added dimension helps us identify coping and support systems a patient has in place and how well they are working. This knowledge can help us link patients with appropriate interventions, optimizing the care we can provide,” said Lewis J. Rose, MD, FACP, of Mercy Hematology/Oncology and medical director of Medical Oncology at Nazareth Hospital. 

“Polaris Oncology offers tremendous value to the cancer treatment centers who use the system and to the patients they care for,” said Dr. Grant Grissom, chief of research and one of the developers of the system. “Cancer care teams have the support they need to cost effectively navigate systematic assessment of psychosocial distress, and patients have the assurance that their concerns will be heard and addressed.” 

Polaris Oncology was developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health, and developed in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Cooper Cancer Institute, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center. It seamlessly integrates into clinical practices, interfaces with electronic health record systems, and supports coordination between multidisciplinary cancer care team members. To learn more about Polaris Oncology, visit

The nationally accredited Mercy Cancer Care programs at Mercy Health System offer a comprehensive array of person-centered services to prevent, diagnose and treat every form of cancer. Physician specialists, oncology nurse navigators and specially trained staff provide a multidisciplinary approach to care that includes access to advanced diagnostics and cancer treatment technologies, support services, Spiritual Counseling, clinical trials and genetic testing and counseling. To learn more, visit

Media Contact

Ann D’Antonio
Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Mercy Health System
100 W. Elm Street
Suite 100
Conshohocken, PA 19428

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