Ring In the New Year With Five Five-Star Apps
From keeping up with preventive service recommendations to comparing prescription costs, these mobile apps can make routine tasks a little easier.
Fam Pract Manag. 2016 Jan-Feb;23(1):OA1-OA5.
Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.
Apps for your smartphone or tablet can make it easier – and sometimes more fun – to complete routine tasks, but finding useful apps can be difficult. In previous issues of Family Practice Management, we and others have discussed a variety of medical apps that can improve your efficiency and the care you provide to your patients.1,2 This article continues that tradition by reviewing five more highly useful apps to consider downloading this year.
We have reviewed these apps using the “SPPACES” app review criteria and have given all of them a top, five-star rating. They address diverse but common tasks for primary care physicians:
Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving recommendations for clinical preventive services,
Scanning, storing, and sharing documents and educational materials with your colleagues and staff,
Comparing the costs of medications at nearby pharmacies,
Consolidating numerous risk scores, clinical decision tools, and calculators in one place,
Keeping track of your itinerary when you're traveling to a medical conference.
APP REVIEW CRITERIA
S – Source or developer of app
P – Platforms available
P – Pertinence to primary care practice
A – Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information
C – Cost
E – Ease of use
S – Sponsor(s)
With the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS), physicians can quickly search for current recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) based on specific patient demographics.
Source: AHRQ, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Pertinence to primary care practice: With frequently changing recommendations for screening, counseling, and chemoprevention of various conditions, it can be difficult for the busy family physician to keep up-to-date. AHRQ ePSS puts all of the current USPSTF recommendations into one reference that is easy to use at the point of care.
Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: The app was last updated on Sept. 30, 2015. Users can opt to receive email notifications about new updates.
Ease of use: Using AHRQ ePSS, it takes only seconds to find up-to-date screening, counseling, and preventive medication recommendations for patients based on age, gender, pregnancy status, tobacco use, and sexual activity. Each topic notes the strength of that recommendation on an easy-to-understand rating scale and provides references for further information. The app requires Internet connectivity only for the initial download and to access new updates.
Sponsor: Not applicable.
Every physician who provides preventive care should use this app to ensure that their patients receive all USPSTF-recommended preventive services and avoid unnecessary or harmful services.
CamScanner scans documents, stores them as searchable images, and syncs them across computers and smart devices.
Source: INTSIG Information Co. Ltd.
Pertinence to primary care practice: Many physicians keep a file cabinet full of reference information including useful guidelines, patient handouts, treatment/diagnostic algorithms, among other things. CamScanner lets you scan these documents, save them as images, and organize all of the files in one easily searchable place. The documents can also be directly faxed or printed from CamScanner. Additionally, the files can be shared with multiple users, thereby allowing colleagues and office staff to have access to the same patient handouts or other documents.
Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: Rated among the best apps by TIME magazinei, the app has more than 100 million users with 50,000 new registrations each day. Perhaps because of its popularity, the app was recently one of hundreds of apps affected by a malware attack on the Apple App Store; however, the app has since been patched with version 3.8.2, and it remains highly rated by app users.
Ease of use: The app automatically crops and enhances photos of your documents to make the text and graphics clearer. Images can then be organized into folders, searched for keywords, and edited later. CamScanner starts with 200 MB of storage for documents. For extra storage, documents can be saved automatically to services such as Photos, DropBox, or Box.
Sponsor: Not applicable.
This is an essential, free app for family physicians looking for an electronic way to add to, organize, and search collections of reference materials.
GoodRx is a resource for health care professionals and their patients to compare medication prices at local pharmacies.
Source: GoodRx Inc.
Pertinence to primary care practice: Cost is a major barrier to patients taking their medications. GoodRx gives patients and health care professionals the ability to access up-to-date prices from more than 75,000 U.S. pharmacies. While at the pharmacy, patients can use the app to search for and display manufacturer coupons and pharmacy discounts. Alternatively, discounts or coupons can be printed from the GoodRx web-site. Patients can also use the app to keep a current list of their prescriptions as well as set reminders to take their medications.
Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: The app is updated weekly with the most recent prices and discounts from drug manufacturers and pharmacies.
Ease of use: Type in the name of a medication and your city and state, and in seconds the app produces a list of multiple local pharmacies and their prices for that medication with a discount coupon provided by GoodRx. The pill identifier feature can be useful if a patient has a pill on hand but can't recall the name of it.
Sponsor: Not applicable.
This is an essential, free app to help keep track of and decrease the expense of medication regimens.
Calculate by QxMD
Calculate by QxMD includes more than 200 medical calculators and decision support tools used to make a diagnosis, determine prognosis, and guide treatment.
Source: QxMD Medical Software Inc.
Pertinence to primary care practice: Primary care physicians are exposed to hundreds of different formulas and decision tools during their training and in practice. Calculate collects the most commonly used calculators in one app.
Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: The app has been recommended by iMedicalApps as the best free medical calculator app for iPhone. Eleven physicians across 10 different specialties contributed to its creation. References for the formulas are available within the app, which was last updated June 11, 2015.
Ease of use: The app serves as a powerful multi-purpose calculator at the point of care. Users can search for tools by keyword or by clinical specialty. Favorite calculators can be saved for quick access.
Sponsor: Not applicable.
This is an essential, free calculator to use at the point of care to help guide management and diagnosis of conditions commonly encountered in primary care.
TripIt takes the hassle out of coordinating travel arrangements by automatically creating a single mobile itinerary.
Source: Concur Technologies Inc.
Pertinence to primary care practice: We all travel for conferences or vacation from time to time. TripIt makes it easier to keep track of multiple confirmation emails, directions, tickets, and itineraries by putting them all in one easily accessible place.
Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: The app was rated among the best apps for travelers by TIME magazine, USA Today, the Today Show, CNET, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes magazine.
Cost: Free for TripIt; $49 per year for TripIt Pro, which is free of advertisements and includes the added features of a seat tracker, flight finder, refund notifications, real-time flight alerts, and point trackers.
Ease of use: The app is incredibly easy to use with a Gmail account because TripIt automatically creates an itinerary from the travel-related emails you receive. Travelers with other email providers need to forward travel confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org to create an itinerary. These plans can be shared with travel companions partially or in their entirety. Moreover, the app can be synced with Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, or Apple Calendar. If you have last-minute changes that weren't added to TripIt, you can edit or add plans on the go from the app or TripIt.com.
Sponsor: Not applicable.
Whether you're traveling to a medical conference or on vacation, this app can help you keep track of hotel, airline, car rental, parking, and restaurant confirmations in one easily navigated, free place.
1. FPM SPPACES: App Reviews department collection. Available online at: http://bit.ly/1PafugL.
2. Walsworth DT. Medical apps: making your mobile device a medical device. Fam Pract Manag. 2012;19(3):10–13.
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