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Decide + Be Ready: supporting today’s modern service woman

Picture of three different women with the words "decide and be ready mobile app" Decide + Be Ready is an evidence-based mobile app that was developed to educate and assist women with selecting the correct contraception for her and her unique needs (Courtesy of Connected Health).

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The average woman has a vast array of contraceptive options available to her and her partner.

However, for U.S. service women, who are often in unique military environments, contraceptive options may not feel as plentiful. Enter Decide + Be Ready, an evidence-based mobile app that was developed to educate and assist women with selecting the correct contraception for her and her unique needs.

To maintain operational readiness in an ever evolving world, today's modern service women require a variety of contraceptive. With the Decide + Be Ready app, women can answer a series of personal questions and instantly start comparing contraceptive options in a location that best suit her individual preferences.

"There are a lot of applications that help women record their cycles, when they're fertile and not fertile, and this app is different," said Catherine Witkop, a retired Air Force colonel; and professor of Preventive Medicine and Gynecologic Surgery & Obstetrics at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland. "This app provides a lot of information about contraception and helps patients identify their own preferences and which, if any, contraception they're interested in using."

The app was developed as part of a collaborative partnership between the Defense Health Agency, USU, and the University of California San Francisco.

Decide + Be Ready includes valuable features such as:

  • Educational modules on birth control methods
  • Information on postpartum, breastfeeding, emergency contraception and fertility awareness
  • Capability to compare contraception methods based on medical history
  • Capability to record questions for a health care provider
  • Ability to email health care provider with the app's recommendations
  • A section addressing considerations for service women, such as impacts of future deployments and management of periods

While the app does answer many questions about different methods of birth controls, Decide + Be Ready works best when used as tool in conjunction with a health care provider. One of the many user friendly features includes a section to save any notes and questions one would have while comparing their options in the app. This allows for women to feel prepared to have an open discussion on the next steps for contraception and family planning.

The DHA Connected Health Branch Usability Lab assisted in the development of the app. Focused on empowering the user, the Usability Lab gathered feedback from health care providers, clinical communities, and service members to fine tune the app.

In addition to helping women make difficult decisions regarding their reproductive health and families, the Decide + Be Ready app is supporting the notion of health care moving into the digital era. The app can be updated the instant new medical information is available, and has an intuitive design that creates "pop-up" questions to think about when women are answering their initial life style questions. The app even allows the patient to email her health care provider with the app's recommendations so that provider can get a better understanding of their patient and her goals before she even steps into the office.

A recent positive review of the app noted that it was an "Excellent tool for service members, especially new members! Women's reproductive health is SO important, and as someone outside the medical field I have never known what to ask or what to consider."

Decide + Be Ready is available through multiple smart phone application stores.

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