Thursday, May 17, 2012

A primer on medical apps

The current issue of Family Practice Management features an indispensable article on "Medical Apps: Making Your Mobile Device a Medical Device," by David Walsworth, MD. This concise guide to the expanding world of medical apps advises that family physicians evaluate apps much as they evaluate the medical literature:

It's good to ask the following questions, which I've adapted from a similar set of questions in a 1993 JAMA article on using the medical literature: Will I use this app frequently? If not, does it do its job so well that it has value for me? Do I trust the results? Do I trust the source? Does the value justify the cost? Your answers to these questions will determine whether a given app is for you.

Dr. Walsworth goes on to highlight his recommended apps in the categories of drug databases, point-of-care references, library tools, research tools, and online communities. Included among these is the AFP By Topic app, which allows readers to access up-to-date content on 50 commonly sought clinical topics. Hopefully you already have this app on your smartphone; if not, you can download it for free at the Android or ITunes stores. We would appreciate any feedback on how we could improve the app's usefulness in future versions.