Feinstein Institute for Medical Research scientist and Northwell Health director of Behavioral Research in the Department of Medicine and Urology Michael A. Diefenbach, PhD, today previewed a new software application that guides patients living with prostate cancer through the treatment decision process. Dr. Diefenbach demonstrated the app during a presentation titled “Promoting Patient Decision Making in the Medical Context: Developing a New Paradigm,” at the Feinstein Institute’s Centricity Series Symposia.
The app is a software-based decision-making tool for prostate cancer treatment. It is designed to help patients navigate the often complex decision-making process for prostate cancer treatment. Prostate cancer patients generally face a variety of treatment options ranging from immediate surgery and/or radiation to health care professionals observing the progress of the cancer until the patient is at greater risk. In addition, patients often have to consider the treatment’s side effects, which can include incontinence and impotence.
The app is loaded on a mobile device, tablet or PC/Mac and uses prompts to lead the patient through the initial decision process to pursue treatment or ongoing observations by a healthcare professional. If they decide treatment, the software then provides additional questions with statements related to treatment requirements and outcomes, for which they then rate their agreement or disagreement. Based on the patient’s answers, the software’s unique algorithm matches their preferences to a treatment option. Patients can then discuss the treatment approach with their physician and have the option to email the results to the provider.
“Making treatment decisions can be daunting with any type of cancer, but it can be particularly difficult for men dealing with prostate cancer as it has a big impact on very basic everyday physical functions,” said Dr. Diefenbach. “My goal in previewing the app at the Centricity Symposium is to show the benefit of incorporating modern technology into research and treatment options, as well as making health care professionals aware that this tool has the potential to successfully guide patients through their cancer treatment.”
Dr. Diefenbach and his team conducted a usability study that showed the app is user-friendly and helps identify patients’ treatment preferences prior to talking to their physician visit. The team will initiate a larger randomized controlled trial to further study the app and determine the extent of its usability and helpfulness in a clinical setting.
This research is supported by the American Cancer Society.
Held annually, the Feinstein Institute’s Centricity Series Symposia are designed to facilitate an interaction and a sharing of knowledge among clinicians, researchers and other Northwell Health health care professionals. Presentations focus on a specific disease or disorder, and detail diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention. This year’s event had a clinical research focus, featuring Northwell researchers presenting their latest discoveries. To learn more about Centricity Series, click here.
About The Feinstein Institute
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York. Home to 50 research laboratories and to clinical research throughout dozens of hospitals and outpatient facilities, the 2,000 researchers and staff of the Feinstein are making breakthroughs in molecular medicine, genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we empower imagination and pioneer discovery, visit FeinsteinInstitute.org.