For women facing menopause, the choice to take – or not to take – estrogen or other prescription medications can be overwhelming, complicated, and downright stressful. It turns out that clinicians often struggle with the decision-making process, too. Now, a new mobile app could help both women and their clinicians navigate this important health care decision.
The app, called MenoPro, was developed by JoAnn Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH, Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and her colleagues at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
It is designed to help clinicians and patients work together to personalize treatment decisions based on patients’ own preferences (hormonal vs. non-hormonal therapies) and to take into account their health risks (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease). The app features two modes, one for health care providers and another for patients.
“This is a clinical decision support tool that facilitates shared decision-making between women and their clinicians, leading to more informed and individualized choices,” says Dr. Manson.
The app is available for free and can be downloaded on iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices, and will soon be available for Android devices. It is based on an algorithm, which Dr. Manson and her colleagues developed and subsequently published in the journal Menopause. It harnesses the most up-to-date science on menopause symptom management. The app does not allow advertising and was developed without pharmaceutical industry support.
In the app’s patient mode, patients can access a range of educational materials, including behavioral lifestyle strategies for reducing hot flashes, information on the advantages and disadvantages of hormonal vs. non-hormonal therapies, and of transdermal vs. oral hormone therapy. It also asks patients how long ago they went through menopause and whether they have diabetes, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other heart disease risk factors. Based on patients’ health histories, the app can suggest which patients may be appropriate for hormone therapy and which should consider non-hormonal treatment options.
In the app’s health care provider mode, clinicians can use risk calculators to determine a patient’s risk for cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and bone fractures and learn how these risks can influence treatment decisions.
“The app has already been downloaded by several thousand users, and the feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Dr. Manson.- Nicole D.