In this edition of Tech Notes, I will cover three recently released medical apps. They’re all from venerable institutions, and they’re all free to download.
I’ve always been a fan of apps produced by the CDC. Even though I know they produce quality apps, I was pleasantly surprised when they recently released the Anticoagulation Manager.
There are already several other anticoagulation management medical apps available. However, the CDC’s app surpasses both.
One of my favorite parts of the app is that, instead of just presenting the data, it gives you three of the most often-encountered clinical scenarios: Do you want to start a patient on anticoagulation; switch the patient’s current regime; or reverse a patient’s anticoagulation.
Over the past few years, the usage of NOACs has increased tremendously for common conditions such as a-fib, and the app takes this into account.
Where the CDC’s app really shines, though, is in its ability to help through various "tricky" clinical scenarios, such as what to do for patients who are pregnant or have chronic kidney disease.
The app doesn’t go into granular details, but rather mentions key papers that explain the reasoning in more detail. It would have been helpful for the development team to include hyperlinks to PubMed instead of having to do manual searches of the papers listed.
The CDC specified that this app was developed through a collaborative effort with the Georgia Institute of Technology. This is notable, as most of the CDC’s other apps don’t announce a collaboration. (That also might explain why the user interface is my favorite out of all the CDC’s apps.) My only frustration is that it isn’t available on Android yet.
MD Anderson, the venerable cancer treatment center, is upping its focus on prevention by releasing a round of new tobacco and nicotine cessation apps.
The apps released recently are Vaper Chase and QuitMedKit. The original QuitMedKit was released more than four years ago, but it has been completely been revamped and re-released. Vaper Chase is an interesting medical app game for patients that explains the dangers of new and emerging tobacco products.
QuitMedKit is based on the 2008 clinical guidelines for tobacco cessation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The guidelines also include first-line medications that help with increasing long-term smoking abstinence rates.
For those who counsel patients on tobacco cessation and want an easy-to-digest format for viewing evidence-based recommendations, this app is key.
Prior apps released by MD Anderson have been updated infrequently. I’m hoping that’s not the case with this one.
There’s another recently launched CDC app that provides significant utility - this one for physicians who work in inpatient settings and have to complete a death certificate when a patient dies.
I remember that, when I was a resident, this was the line always fraught with debate, as there were often multiple morbidities and pathologies that contributed to death, but you have to list one main cause.
The CDC wants to educate providers about how to fill this section out correctly because they track causes of death nationally and release the data to the public.
These reports also shape how grants and research funding can be allocated by the NIH and other foundations. For example, if there’s a sudden uptick in a cause of death from a particular pathology or region, there would be more research funding granted to explore further and come up with a solution.
Overall, the app is a great resource if you want to make sure you’re completing a death certificate accurately.
Iltifat Husain, M.D., is editor-in-chief and founder of the website iMedicalApps.com, the leading physician publication on digital medicine. He’s also assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of medical app curriculum at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Learn more about our contributors on page 20.