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Mobile App Experience Project

1st Quarter Reviews

We’ve restarted our popular mobile apps project with even more reviewers.

The cost of apps continues to be a major barrier to accessing and experimenting with for-fee apps that might improve work performance or efficiencies. Most for-fee apps have a free version but those usually  provide only bare bones functions and work as a tease to get the user to purchase the full versions. To counter this, we’ve provided a group of Network members with either a $50 iTunes or GooglePlay purchase card  to try out and review at least four apps.

The app evaluation criteria we are using for this project is a modified version of the app evaluation worksheet developed by faculty at the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. In addition to the base information (app name, operating system, sponsor/publisher/creator, cost, web links, etc.), we wanted to collect other helpful information that librarians typically would provide a client. Information such as: primary user (professional/layperson); creator’s credentials; bias; up to date information; ease of app’s navigation/access; etc. We also asked the evaluator to rate the app from excellent all the way down to not good.

Take a look at the summary of the app evaluations below and perhaps it will help you select an app that is right for you or your patrons. All app reviews will be published on our web site in the future.

-Alicia Lillich, Kansas/Technology Coordinator

Please note…the app evaluations submitted by the project participants are theirs alone and are not the evaluation of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.

Previous Reviews:
2014-2015 Quarter 1
2014-2015 Quarter 2
2014-2015 Quarter 3

Rank – Excellent:

 knee app icon Clinical Pattern Recognition: Knee Pain | iOS, Web browser (monthly subscription) | $19.99 | Content Current: 2015
USER TYPE: Physical Therapists, Athletic Trainers, Clinicians, Chiropractors, Educators, Students
ABOUT: This app allows users to learn or review common pain patterns and see hypotheses for the cause (e.g., osteoarthritis, meniscal tears, etc.). For potential conditions, the app provides information on prevalence, clinical findings, physical exam, interventions, and outcome measures.
APP CRED: The team at, includes Dr. Michael Wong, Dr. Marshall LeMoine, Dr. Anne LeMoine, and Dr. Emmanuel Yung. All are PT, DPT, OCS. Two members are FAAOMPT.
CONTENT CRED: Many pages provide a list of references for the text provided. In most cases, the references are hyperlinked to the articles in PubMed.
NOTES: The app was last updated in 2015, but whether the information was updated or whether the changes might have been software related is unclear. A couple sections of the app were a little slow to load, but the issue seemed to occur only when accessing sections (e.g., Special Tests) that pulled up a lengthy list of video content.
Explain everything logo


Explain Everything | iOS, Android, Windows | $2.99
USER TYPE: Students, Educators, Information Professionals
ABOUT: Explain Everything is a unique interactive screencasting whiteboard app being used by over 2 million students, teachers, leaders, and learners around the world.
APP CRED: A team of innovators, artists, learners, and leaders dedicated to developing creativity-inspiring applications.
NOTES: This productivity app can be used by a variety of audiences. Information professionals might consider creating videos, narrating PowerPoints or Keynotes, and giving presentations using this app. Excellent resource for interactive teaching and learning.
 Orthopedic Patient Education Bundle logo Patient Education Bundle (Orthopedic Set)| iOS | $44.99 | Content Current: 2014
USER TYPE: Health Professionals
ABOUT: A selection of 3D patient education videos that includes cutting edge animations describing conditions, treatments, and operations.
APP CRED: 3D4 Medical
CONTENT CRED: Physicians and animators. I could not find any credentials on the physicians or animators of the videos.
NOTES: Wonderful videos that can be used for teaching patients, medical students, and residents. There is a drawing tool on each video so a physician can stop the video and draw on it. I found this feature useful, especially for a patient or student who is having a hard time understanding. There is no sound on the videos, narration would be nice. Handouts and Powerpoint slides can be created. Well organized. The video quality blew me away, they are so detailed.
PDR Expert logo PDF Expert 5 | iOS | $9.99 |
USER TYPE: Health Professionals, Students, Information Professionals
ABOUT: This is the Swiss Army PDF annotation app. Need to fill out PDF forms? This app does it. Need to edit, review and annotate PDFs? This app does it. Need to sign documents and registration forms? This app does it.
APP CRED: Readdle is a well-known and experienced app developing company.
NOTES: PDF Expert is for anyone, student or professional, that needs to read and annotate PDF documents. Once annotated, files can be shared via iTunes or over the Wi-Fi Drive. The app offers indexing of the documents, so the entire collection can be searched more efficiently. I put the app to use during a recent educational technology research project, and found using it on my iPhone to be a time saver. Having the ability to read and make notes on my selected PDF articles streamlined my writing production. Readdle recently developed a desk top class application for iPad named PDF Office, which is designed to serve those that need to do more “create and edit” functions with PDF documents. The company compared the two apps to how Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader function, with PDF Expert being more similar to Acrobat Reader. This would drive the selection of which app to buy, if you are in the market for a PDF annotator or creator.

One of the first questions new residents ask is which PDF annotator to use. I will be confident in recommending PDF Expert to them in the future.

Rank – Very Good:

 ABC of Medical Management of stones ABCs of Medical Management of Stones | iOS | $0.99 | Content Current: 2014
USER TYPE: Health Professionals
ABOUT: A simple step-by-step approach to the diagnosis and prevention of nephrolithiasis.
APP CRED: Margaret S. Pearle, MD, Glenn M. Preminger, MD, David S. Goldfarb, MD, and Donald P. Griffith, MD, with additional input from Charles Y.C. Pak, MD. Professors of Medicine from different universities in the United States.
CONTENT CRED: Margaret S. Pearle, MD, Glenn M. Preminger, MD, David S. Goldfarb, MD, and Donald P. Griffith, MD, with additional input from Charles Y.C. Pak, MD.
NOTES: They want to reach out to younger doctors who rely on mobile devices so that they have an intuitive and easy way to diagnose and treat kidney stones.

The treatment plans do suggest two drugs manufactured by Mission Pharmacal, saying that they may be useful.

 CBT Keeper logo CBT Keeper | Android, Web Browser | $1.99 for premium version | Content Current: 2014
USER TYPE: Laypersons
ABOUT: Takes the user, in simple steps, through the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), with the aim of overcoming anxiety and depression.
APP CRED: Jeff Clark (a medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western University) is responsible for the app and Jamie Clark is responsible for the graphics.
CONTENT CRED: The app is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy from the book, “The Feeling Good Handbook” by David D. Burns, MD.
NOTES: This app allows you to understand the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy and helps you to work through mood disorders such as depression and anxiety by creating cards that give you points by charging you with working through cognitive distortions such as “all or nothing thinking,” “discounting the positive,” and “fortune telling.”

I think this is a good app to go along with Dr. David Burn’s book. They should potentially be marketed together and could be mentioned to a library patron if they are checking out his book.

 Drawboard PDF logo Drawboard PDF | Windows | $9.99 (free trial available)
USER TYPE: Clinical Librarians
ABOUT: The top paid Windows PDF app to read, annotate, and mark up your PDFs. Ideal for replacing pen and paper – avoid having to print documents ever again, making annotating PDFs a breeze. Open existing PDFs, create a new PDF, annotate using an extensive array of tools, and save back as a compatible PDF.
APP CRED: Drawboard
NOTES: This app is designed to avoid carrying paper around and have the option to highlight and take notes and keep all your pdfs in one place. It is very easy to use and has a lot of the options I wanted (like typing my notes in boxes rather than hand writing them with my finger on the screen). I will be using this in the future to read and take notes on pdfs on my Surface and have the notes with me when I round.
English_Spanish Logo English<>Spanish Medical| iOS, Android, Windows Phone | $19.99 (Free 7-day trial) | Content Current: 2015
USER TYPE: Heath Professionals, Medical Students
ABOUT: This dictionary app contains virtually all health-related terms likely to occur in a conversation between a health worker and a Spanish-speaking patient, including common colloquialisms and slang terms not found in similar dictionaries.
APP CRED: MobiSystems, Inc
CONTENT CRED: Glenn T. Rogers, MD, University of Cincinnati Medical School, business dealings in Mexico, decades of treating Spanish-speaking patients.
NOTES: The app supports education by offering a “word a day” button so users can pick up useful words each time they open the app. The sample dialogues would be useful in an office or clinic setting, thus increasing efficient communication between staff and patients. There are brief articles on Spanish pronunciation, medical Spanish tips, abbreviations, and typical dialogues to use – very handy! Doesn’t support audible pronunciation.
Infectious Infectious Disease Compendium: A Persiflager’s Guide | iOS, Android, free web version also available | $5.99 | Content Current: 2015
USER TYPE: Health Professionals or Students
ABOUT: A hyperlinked guide to Infectious Diseases. Over 600 pages of information on antibiotics, organisms, and diseases. Intended as a quick reference for non-infectious disease practitioners. Updated monthly from the literature. References link to Pubmed or primary sources.
APP CRED: Privately developed by Mark Crislip, Infectious Disease specialist at Legacy Health in Portland, OR; editor for Science-Based Medicine site.
CONTENT CRED:  It includes links to free articles in PubMed Central, which are clearly marked as external links.
NOTES: The Infectious Disease Compendium includes information on a wide variety of topics that fall under the categories of bugs, drugs, and diseases. The writing is both clear and colloquial, with occasional authorial asides about the downsides of alternative therapies and problems with the available evidence for specific treatments. The app includes clear tables of contents and well-organized topic pages with consistent headings.
Interfaith logo Interfaith Care for the Ill | iOS | $4.99 | Content Current: 2011
USER TYPE: Chaplains, Ethics Committees, Health Care Providers
ABOUT: Few experiences in life are more difficult than finding the right words to comfort someone who is ill or dying. Matters can become even more complicated if the afflicted person is of a different religious background than your own.
APP CRED: Templeton Press
NOTES: Only the five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) are represented. However, Christian prayers are provided for 7 denominations (General, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Orthodox, Methodist, Roman Catholic).

My library supports an accredited Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program. I have shared this app with some of the chaplains. They not only liked it, several told me they purchased it based upon their ability to preview it on my iPad.

Mediquations logo Mediquations| iOS, Android | $4.99| Content Current: 2014
USER TYPE: Health Professionals
ABOUT: Mediquations has over 230 medical calculations and scoring tools in an intuitive interface. It provides powerful search, categories and favorites to make the equations people use readily available. It supports International and US units.
APP CRED: Mediquations was designed and developed by Zack Mahdavi as a 3rd year medical student from The University of Texas Medical Branch, who majored in Computer Science at University of Texas at Austin. Zack is now a resident in neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth.
NOTES: When I asked an internal medicine resident at University of Missouri-KC whether he used QxMD Calculate, he said some of their equations didn’t seem to match up. He switched to Mediquations and recommended it.

The lack of information about the content’s author or source is troubling.

 note shelf logo Noteshelf | iOS | $7.99 | Content Current: 2014
USER TYPE: Anyone including Health Professionals, Information Professionals, and Laypersons
ABOUT: Noteshelf lets you take notes, annotate PDFs, sketch ideas, sign contracts, fill forms, print documents, and more right on your iPad. Syncs with Evernote and works with all popular cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box.
APP CRED: Fluid Touch Private, Ltd.
NOTES: The app can sync with Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive. You can import and annotate PDF, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel documents (which are converted to PDF format). You can create multiple notebooks and add passcodes to those with sensitive data. You can share a single page of your notes via email, Twitter, or Facebook, or print your notes if you have an AirPrint compatible printer.
pill monitor logo Pill Monitor – Medication Reminders and Logs | iOS | $0.99 | Content Current:
USER TYPE: Patients
ABOUT: Pill Monitor is designed to manage any of your pills/medications, take pills on time with this app, don’t miss taking pills again. Taking pills at the same time everyday will be good for your health, let Pill Monitor remind you when it’s time.
APP CRED: Maxwell Software
NOTES: Medication safety remains a top concern in hospitals. Patients and their families often hold primary responsibility for conferring accurate information about medications. Depending on the circumstances, patients may not be in the condition to communicate that information. A portable, electronic version of a patient’s medication list is important for timely, efficient care and patient safety. Additionally, scheduled medication reminders for patients and their caregivers can improve compliance and result in better health outcomes.

Pill Monitor has the features that one would expect for managing medication lists and alerts. As it provides no medical information and no advertising, bias is not an issue. Maxwell Software builds a variety of apps for health and wellness, medical and finance use. A major flaw of many medication trackers – Pill Monitor is no exception – is the lack of an authoritative index of generic or U.S. brand names for drugs or supplements.

The key features and ease of use, along with pass code functions and iCloud backup, make this a good choice tracking medications, setting reminders, and emailing drug lists and history of drugs taken.

 Prizmo logo Prizmo Scanning & OCR| iOS, Mac OSx | $9.99
USER TYPE: Anyone who needs to scan in a document using a mobile device.
ABOUT: Prizmo is a photo based scanner app that lets you scan and recognize text documents, business cards, and images, and then export them as PDF/Text, vCard, or JPEG/PNG. It allows the user to capture and export documents any time, anywhere.
APP CRED: Creaceed (Belgian Company)
NOTES: The hardest part of using the app is getting the camera to take a good photo. The picture to text works fairly well, but it had a harder time with italics. Scanning an entire page of a PDF from a journal results in a lot of errors, but if you need raw text it’s a good place to start. Correcting mistakes is a lot easier than typing everything out again. Correction can be made in app. It separates out sections of text. The image quality is a lot better than a free app (iScanner) I tried to compare. Text to voice is great, especially for those with visual impairments.
 Journal_Club Journal Club for Android | iOS, Android | $4.99 | Content Current: 2015
USER TYPE: Health Professionals, especially Medical Students, Residents, Faculty, and Clinicians
ABOUT: Powered by, focuses on the top articles in internal medicine and puts landmark trials at your fingertips. Written by physicians, these article summaries are distilled into bite-sized morsels that clinicians can digest.
CONTENT CRED: Too many to list here.
NOTES: I explored the web site while I was evaluating the app and found the app to be a good mobile representation of the information found on the site.

Since the app is the mobile representation found on a wiki there are the same positives and negatives that apply to information wikis. The wiki seems to me to be well regulated and monitored as to contributors, as well as transparent in its operation which provided to my satisfaction a sense of trust in the information provided. Of course any summary can be verified through comparison with the original article if needed.

In addition to being searchable, the information index can be sorted by topic or date.

I realize that there is going to be a delay between publication of a clinical trial and its summary/posting by the wiki but I wish there were more entries from 2015. This however will not prevent me from using this app or recommending it to my patrons.

Rank – Fairly Good:

 Journal_Club Journal Club for Android | iOS, Android | $4.99 | Content Current: 2015
USER TYPE: Physicians, Medical Residents, Students, Other Medical Staff
ABOUT: The Journal Club app provides summaries of clinical trials and journal articles. The summaries provide concise information about clinial trials and research studies, including information about study design, study strengths and weaknesses, and the overall study conclusion.
APP CRED: The app’s content is derived from the Wiki Journal Club. This site operates like most other “wiki” type pages where various authors can contribute to the wiki. There is an editorial board that oversees the content of the wiki page. All of the editors and contributers listed on the “About” page are MDs, MD candidates, DOs, PharmDs, or PharmD candidates.
CONTENT CRED:  Within each article summary you will find a full reference to the article, additional references cited in the summary, link to PubMed, link to the article’s publisher (full text can be downloaded if the user or the user’s library has subscription to the cited journal, and a link to the Wiki Journals Club web site (the content on the wiki is identical to the content found in the app).
NOTES: This type of information is very useful to have in a mobile app environment. It allows residents, physicians, and other hospital staff to quickly review summaries of studies during busy shift times.

The Apple version of the Journal Club app was reviewed by in 2012: For this review I used the Android version of the app, which has been updated since this 2012 review. While the app does cite the sources for studies summarized, it does not actually list the authors of the summaries. It would be helpful to know who exactly authored each summary in case question arise or inaccuracies are found. On the wiki page you can look at the history of the entry and find some authorship information, but the author is sometimes listed under a generic username and not under the actual author’s name. The app contains summaries of articles that were published from  the early 1990’s up until 2014. The earlier articles are supposed to be “landmark” or historical studies that are still used today for patient treatment purposes.

Probably the biggest weakness of this app is the lack of content. The amount of content, since it is derived from the Wiki Journal Club page, is entirely reliant on volunteers to produce. Some disease topics are better covered than others. For example, there are 28 summaries of studies about stroke, but only 4 summaries about asthma and only 2 about cardiac arrest. This may be due, in part, to the expertise and interests of those that contribute to the wiki page.

It should also be noted that the Wiki Journal Club page is freely accessible from an internet browser. I think the mobile app version would probably still be a good choice for those who would like to view the content in the mobile environment, but users also have the option of not purchasing the app and just accessing from a mobile web browser.  Despite some of its weaknesses, I would likely recommend the Journal Club for Android app to my users. It is fairly inexpensive and provides good information in a digestible, easy-to-understand format. It is not as comprehensive in scope as the article summaries found in the Annals of Internal Medicine (in their former ACP Journal Club for example), but it is less expensive than ACP apps (unless the patron is a member of the ACP), and would likely be especially useful for medical students and residents. I would just caution that this is not a comprehensive resource, and that other resources would need to be utilized if a user cannot find the information they are looking for via the app.

 Marvin reader logo Marvin | iOS | $3.99
USER TYPE: Students using etextbooks, Recreational Readers
ABOUT: Marvin is an eBook reader for people who are passionate about their books, “the most brilliant eReader to out in a long time.
APP CRED: Appastafarian
NOTES: This is mostly a productivity app. The app’s purpose is to provide all of the features of paper reading but with additional features for quick look up and in-text notes.

The app has lots of bells and whistles. I am not sure how common these tools are in other eReaders (highlighting, bookmarking, notes, dictionary). One unique feature, I thought, was you can quickly share parts of the book or notes on social media and “deep view,” which which looks up a character or word and retrieves information on that word or person. Once reading, the app is finicky when tapping to show tools. It takes several taps to bring the library or home screen page option up. I would stick with iBooks or other readers which allows for other formats than Epub (ex. Marvin does not open PDFs).

 Shelved Shelved | iOS | $0.99 | Content Current: 2011
USER TYPE: Librarians, Laypersons, Readers
ABOUT: Are you a librarian at heart? Do you have what it takes to work in a library? This game is your test! The point of the game is simple: put the books in order–but any librarian will tell you that’s not as simple as it sounds.
APP CRED: Scott & Diane La Counte
NOTES: The concept is great! However, the app is very buggy. While I was using, it would often lock up. I don’t believe it is being updated or worked on. I never thought about using an app for training purposes, but it makes sense given the generation of student workers on my staff. I think this would be a great app for training and to brush up on skills. It operates as a game so I can see it being useful for student workers.

Rank – Not Good:

 blood_pressure Instant Blood Pressure| iOS | $4.99 | Content Current: 2015
USER TYPE: Laypersons, Patients
ABOUT: Instant Blood Pressure lets you measure your blood pressure using only your iPhone – no cuff required. It is not a medical device. It uses a patent-pending process created by a team of forward-thinking biomedical engineers and software developers. Measurements take less than 40 seconds and produce a systolic, diastolic, and heart rate measurement.
APP CRED: AuraLife
NOTES: This is a “recreational” medical device, not a medical instrument that records your blood pressure. It does send you to tutorials to learn how to use it and takes blood pressure, but there is no way to know how truly accurate it is. If the technology worked, the app would be a wonderful addition to blood pressure monitoring, but it does not work.

There have been some editorials on this app (Wired) which is for iPhone only, because of the inaccuracy of the information and physicians are afraid the users will think that it is a credible device to use instead of a blood pressure cuff. I wanted to try it. I think some of the readings have been good, but if I can’t trust it, why use it? Also, there is no way to store and track the readings and data. I would not recommend this app.

Our 2015-2016 Reviewers

Kate Conerton
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY
Kristen DeSanto
University of Colorado
Aurora, CO
Lori Fitterling
Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences
Kansas City, MO
Rose Fredrick
Creighton University
Omaha, NE
Angela Hardi
Washington University
St. Louis, MO
Teresa Hartman
University of Nebraska
Omaha, NE
Heather Healy
University of Kansas
Kansas City, KS
Anne Heimann
Bryan College of Health Sciences
Lincoln, NE
C. Tobin Magle
University of Colorado
Aurora, CO
Cindy Perkins
Creighton University
Omaha, NE
Shandra Protzko
National Jewish Health
Denver, CO
Susan Sanders
University of Missouri Kansas City
Kansas City, KS
Kitty Serling
Research Medical Center
Kansas City, MO
Gwen E Sprague
TMC Lakewood
Kansas City, MO
Shawn Steidinger
Primary Children’s Hospital
Salt Lake City, UT
Shelley White
Mercy Springfield
Springfield, MO
Erin Wimmer
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
Lauren Yaeger
St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Saint Louis, MO
Julie Zimmerman
University of Kansas
Kansas City, KS

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