Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Critical Eye on Mobile Technology in Medicine

Right after starting this blog, I became a staff writer at iMedicalApps, an online publication on mobile medical technology. I've really enjoyed working with them and reviewing medical apps on the iOS platform, though this means that my time for independent blogging on this site has been limited.

So why do I think it's worthwhile to review apps? As medical education embraces new technology, I think it's essential for us to look at new resources like mobile apps with the same critical eye that we use for evaluating traditional resources like medical textbooks and peer reviewed publications. At the same time, this is a fantastic opportunity to experiment with new ways to use technology in teaching, independent learning, and clinical practice.

Cardiac Catheterization is a patient education app

Iltifat Husain, the editor in chief at iMedicalApps, is also an Emergency Medicine resident. I respect the way he's created the site to be an independent, reputable resource for other health care providers. The focus is on finding how mobile technology can be used wisely and effectively, not on what's trendy. We're encouraged to honestly review the apps and to be clear about those that we would and would not recommend. Iltifat's recent review of AliveCor is a great example of how physicians should investigate new technology - not just focusing on if and how it works, but also if and how it can actually be useful.

Interactive iBooks are a new technology that I think have great potential for influencing medical education. I enjoyed reviewing Introduction to Bedside Ultrasound, a fantastic resource on the iBook platform.

I also wrote a commentary piece on the limitations of iBooks in their current form, and ideas for problem solving how they could be more accessible and useful to medical educators.

Can a medical apps make us better doctorsCPR Game is a great example of using technology to explore new ways of learning. This serious game simulates a cardiac arrest scenario and teaches resuscitation skills by encouraging players to identify and preform critical actions in a timely manner to save their patient. I found that playing this game helped me remember my resuscitation ABCs and keep a level head when working on medical codes. I look forward to seeing more fun, interactive teaching tools like this in medical education.

On the other hand, I reviewed some apps that I wouldn't recommend to other physicians. Coags Uncomplicated seemed like a great free educational app at first glance, but in the end turned out to have a hidden agenda - it was created by a drug company to sell more drugs. I called out Emergency Medicine iQ, a board review app, for having inaccurate references and incorrect explanations.  I also question the role of some apps in clinical practice - is it safe to use an app with an automated ECG algorithm? I don't think so.

All in all, reviewing apps has been a fun experience that has helped me find new med-ed resources, and learn about the pearls and pitfalls for using medical apps as a physicians.

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