These four great medical apps have all recently been developed and released. They’re all free to download, and they all come from great sources. One application, in particular, has long been overdue to make an entrance in the app store, and you’re sure to be excited to download it and give it a try.
The Choosing Wisely app is a collaboration between the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and Consumer Reports - and finally brings the popular Choosing Wisely recommendations to mobile form via a smartphone app.
Most physicians are aware of Choosing Wisely, a campaign created in collaboration between ABIM, other medical societies and Consumer Reports to help promote conversations between clinicians and their patients when it comes to ordering tests and procedures. The crux of the campaign is to reduce unnecessary medical testing and procedures, while also improving health outcomes.
The Choosing Wisely campaign has gotten a lot of attention in the media because of the number of medical societies involved, the evidence behind the recommendations, and how the recommendations are easily presented in one easy-to-access area not only for clinicians but also for patients.
This ease of access is why I have been puzzling that it took this long for the campaign to make it to mobile form - but it’s better late than never, and the app is a welcome addition to the medical app store.
When you open the Choosing Wisely app, you are immediately prompted to select "For Patients" or "For Clinicians." In the physician section, along with key recommendations and literature citations, the app has patient-specific handouts and sharing functions that make it easier to explain to patients why a certain test or procedure isn’t recommended at the time.
It’s great to have an application to help patients understand the guidelines their physician is using. It’s important that patients realize that following guidelines and evidence-based care is how tests and procedures should be ordered - not in a haphazard manner that can cause unintended consequences.
My biggest issue with the app is that it’s not available on the Android platform yet. That will hopefully change soon.
Pneumonia Guide is by the prolific physician app developer Joshua Steinberg, M.D., whom we’ve featured before. His medical apps are truly created "by physicians, for physicians," and they are simple and easy to use.
Though Steinberg’s Pneumonia Guide app has been around for years, it has undergone a significant update centered around recent changes in pneumonia guidelines by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).
Once you select the type of pneumonia (the app has pediatric pneumonia recommendations as well), you are presented with a page that lists diagnostic testing that should and shouldn’t be considered, antibiotic choices, assessing clinical response, and recommendations on the management of overall care.
The app makes distinctions between IV and PO antibiotics and outpatient and inpatient settings. There is a calculator section as well to help physicians with risk stratification.
Price: Free. Apple: apple.co/2BaINPc. Android: Not available.
Pregnancy Passport was developed by the Physicians and Midwives Collaborative Practice, a team of OB/GYNs and midwives who practice across five centers across Northern Virginia. The app is a great example of how a practice can promote itself by providing a great smartphone app experience that’s not only for their patients but for patients in general.
Though the app itself does have specific features made just for patients of the Physicians and Midwives practice, it’s packed full of great patient education content that any pregnant patient would find useful.
There are sections related to many chief complaints encountered in pregnancy. Key timers included in the app are kick counts and a contractions timer. A great feature of this app that many other patient-centered pregnancy apps don’t include is a postpartum and newborn care section.
Practice-specific apps rarely have patient portals and simply include information on the medical practice, which doesn’t make them useful. However, this app does a great job of promoting their practice by creating a medical application that provides real value.
If you’re thinking of making a practice-specific app, look at the Pregnancy Passport app as a model application.
The CKD Care app by the National Kidney Foundation calculates eGFR, adjusted eGFR, and other related information.
The app allows you to enter in key demographic information, insert key lab values, and get eGFR and adjusted eGFR values. Interestingly, while you are entering in the data, you are at times prompted with pop-ups that explain why the patient should see a nephrologist based on the values that you enter.
You are given a differential diagnosis as well as the actual values, which is one of the main features that separates this app from those that have come before.
Click on the differential list to get a nice condensed version of the condition. Some of the content within the differentials can also link out to UpToDate.
Overall, this medical app is a nice addition by the National Kidney Foundation into the app store and provides value by providing a great differential list based on the values that you get for eGFR and adjusted eGFR.
Iltifat Husain, M.D., is editor-in-chief and founder of iMedicalApps.com, the leading physician publication on digital medicine. He’s also an assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of medical app curriculum at Wake Forest School of Medicine.