Software aids prostate patients

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Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset scientist Dr. Michael A. Diefenbach recently previewed a new software application that guides patients living with prostate cancer through the treatment decision process. 

Diefenbach, who is also Northwell Health director of Behavioral Research in the Department of Medicine and Urology, demonstrated the application during a presentation titled “Promoting Patient Decision Making in the Medical Context: Developing a New Paradigm,” at the Feinstein Institute’s Centricity Series Symposia, according to a press release from Northwell Health.

The application 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. 

The application 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 health-care 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,” Diefenbach said. “My goal in previewing the application 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.” 

Diefenbach and his team conducted a usability study that showed the application 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 application and determine the extent of its usability and helpfulness in a clinical setting.

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