One of the tenets of modern medicine is to practice ‘shared’ decision making when deciding on the optimum treatment for our patients.
Sometimes, decisions are not always straightforward and patients require time to consider the potential risks and benefits.
The United Kingdom National Health Service has recently launched a collection of free patient decision support apps which aim to improve the doctor-patient relationship.
In order to enable patients to reach a decision in partnership with their healthcare professional, it is important that they have access to information about the different treatment options and have the opportunity to work through the information and evaluate the risks and benefits when viewed in conjunction with their personal values and preferences.
This patient decision aid assists patients to progress through it in an ordered fashion, having a number of distinct elements to the decision making process which support the patient in reaching a provisional decision which they can then discuss with their healthcare professional.
Each of these apps have been created in conjunction with the BMJ Group (thus ensuring that all the information is reputable). There are 12 apps available in this series (iTunes Link provided):
- Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Testing
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Repair
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Established Kidney Failure
- Localised Prostate Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Stable Angina
- Osteoarthritis of the Hip
- Osteoarthritis of the Knee
- Lower Urinary Trat Symptoms
Each app has been created using an identical template which contains a series of questions which a patient can answer. Each decision aid is split into five steps which guide the patient through the decision making process:
The shared decision making ensures that both the patient and the physician have the opportunity to express their views and come up with an overall management plan. The main use of these apps is for patient education. It is anticipated that patients would download the relevant app and then go through answering the questions and learning about the various treatment options in their own time.
The actual process is rather lengthy due to the detail included. I think would put many clinicians off using this device in a management situation. Instead, these apps are most useful if patients can go away and download them and process the information in their own time ready for a future consultation.
Despite the fact that these apps have been developed with the NHS in mind, there are some uses which patients may find helpful regardless of country. This includes simple easy to understand explanations of various treatment options as well as the ability to rate views and opinions on the decisions.
- Lots of detailed content in simple lay terms
- Ability to email a summary of your responses
- Inclusion of explanatory video
- I had some stability issues with multiple apps which froze on launch and required rebooting my device
- The idea behind these apps is a good one particularly trying to leverage mobile technology for positive health choices and decision making. These apps are definitely worth recommending to patients who are keen to learn more and use mobile technology.
- The inbuilt use of questions, media and information means that these apps are a great source of information for patients. The addition of phone features to speak to an advisor seal what is an overall impressive patient education adjunct.
- User interface – 4
- Multimedia usage – 3
- Price - 5
- Real world applicability - 3
Disclaimer: This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.