Using Technology to Improve Informed Decision Making

by Sheryl Monks


JPHMP Direct TALK is a podcast series that explores the many voices of public health and brings listeners conversations that bridge the gap between research and practice. 

In this episode of JPHMP Direct Talk, we speak again with Dr. Shaun Owens, Director of the Healthy Aging Research and Technology (HART) Lab at the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work, this time about the various innovative technologies he’s using to help cancer patients make more informed decisions about screenings, biopsies, treatment, and survivorship.

“There’s no definite cause for prostate cancer,” says Dr. Owens, “so really the best we can do is help people make informed decisions. Looking at the spectrum of decisions, how can we enhance an individual’s ability to receive valid information about prostate cancer, including screening, which has been very controversial? How can we give them information and help them make decisions about biopsies? How can we help them make quality decisions that are consistent with their values related to treatment? And how can we help them continue to live a really good quality of life following their treatment?”

Dr. Shaun Owens @uofsccosw Healthy Aging Research and Technology (HART) Lab looks at ways to help improve cancer patients' decision making with the aid of innovative technologies such as #avatars, #mobileapps, and… Click To Tweet

To answer those questions, Dr. Owens relies on the latest technology, including avatars, apps, and — one day, he hopes — Artificial Intelligence. 

“In the technology space, I’m most excited about how we can use data better through algorithms, so artificial intelligence. How can we use these systems to learn rapidly and act quickly? Whether that be in a smart home, which we talked about in our last podcast… or in ways that not only informs but predicts an event… Imagine being able to recognize something a heart condition or whatever it may be before the event?”

Listen to our full conversation in the podcast below. And be sure to check out our previous podcast, “Helping Older Adults Age in Place.”

Read the Research Behind the Podcast:

Sheryl Monks is the Editorial Associate of the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. She manages JPHMP Direct.