Top 5 Medical Apps for Clinicians

With the explosion in medical apps available on the app stores, it’s not surprising that there are more ‘digital tools’ available to help healthcare professionals carry out everyday tasks. As with medical apps for patients there are thousands out there which aim to create efficiencies and improve access to resources on the go and we’ve selected our top 5 currently available (in no particular order).

Figure 1

This app has earned itself a lot of press recently and is a great way of allowing medical and nursing professionals to share and discuss patient treatment options by sharing medical images in a safe and secure environment. It takes a serious approach to privacy and medical app compliance with the app running on a HIPPA compliant infrastructure and algorithms like automatic face blocking built into the app to protect patient details. This is a clever app and fills a void where healthcare professionals are increasingly using unsecured or generic apps like ‘What’s App’ to share and discuss patient cases.

http://www.gponline.com/app-review-figure-1-medical-images/article/1309858
http://www.imedicalapps.com/2013/07/figure-1-app-review-instagram-physicians/
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/figure-1-medical-cases-for/id645948529?mt=8
https://figure1.com/

iOS & Android

Figure 1 Figure 1

 

Doximity

Doximity is the largest US network dedicated to healthcare professionals with over 50% of doctors signed up. It’s been going since 2012 and provides HIPAA-secure communication & electronic faxing, tailored medical news and career management. One of the biggest attractions is ability to earn CME credits as it’s been made very simple to do, but the most popular part of the app, is the ability to send secure HIPPA compliant faxes with each medical professional registered to the app being assigned their own dedicated fax number, free, for life. Interestingly the co-founder of LinkedIn, Konstantin Guericke, sits on Doximity’s Advisory Board so that might give an indication of where Doximity sees it’s future.

http://33charts.com/2013/08/12-things-about-doximity.html
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/doximity/id393642611?mt=8
https://www.doximity.com/

iOS & Android

Doximity Doximity

Prognosis (For Junior Doctors)

This is an interesting app aimed at healthcare professionals, junior doctors, medical students and nurses. By simulating a number of different clinical cases it allows you to test your diagnostic ability. With new cases added to its library each week you are presented with a short detailed review of the diagnostic process which is supported by up-to-date discussions around that condition.

http://www.prognosisapp.com/
http://www.juniordr.com/index.php/technology/best-medical-smartphone-mobile-and-ipad-apps.htmlhttp://www.imedicalapps.com/2010/11/prognosis-your-diagnosis-app-simulation-clinical-cases-iphone-free-medical-app-review/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prognosis-your-diagnosis/id392489854?mt=8

iOS & Android

Prognosis Prognosis

 Vital Signs (NHS Workers)

This app is something a little different and has been designed specifically for the wellbeing of NHS employees. It’s purpose is to help keep NHS health professionals fit and healthy but also to provide a support infrastructure for help with alcohol misuse, healthy eating & mental wellbeing at work. There are also a range of work tools available within the app like hospital maps, local transport information and the latest health & safety guidance.

http://www.vitalsigns.nhs.uk/
http://www.ahsc.org.uk/ahsc-healthcare-apps/
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/vitalsigns/id585262640?mt=8

iOS & Android

Vital SIgns Vital Signs

NICE BNF

The NICE BNF app kind of encapsulates the digital transition in the medical profession. Going from what used to be hard copy buried deep within a hospital ward, the information is now available in your pocket. Once the initial download has taken place the app works off line without the need for an internet connection and its recent re-design makes it a pleasant and easy to use system allowing you to set bookmarks combined with a really good search facility. It is a free app but in order to login you will need a free Athens account that’s available to all NHS clinical staff.

http://www.nice.org.uk/about/what-we-do/nice-apps-for-smartphones-and-tablets
http://www.imedicalapps.com/2012/09/british-physicians-bnf-app-nhs-clinical-staff-free/
http://review2013-2014.nice.org.uk/support/British_National_Formulary_BNF/

iOS & Android

BNF BNF

Turning your clinical pathway into a mobile app

It has been reported that health and wellbeing applications are estimated to make up approximately 40% of new smartphone apps currently being developed. Health and medical related apps have the potential to be adapted and used by healthcare professionals, helping to revolutionise the sector and reflect the digital age we live in.

There has also been a lot of discussion around providing HCPs with greater access to clinical pathways and care maps so that they can easily check medical guidelines on the go to help ensure that they are implementing a specific task in-line with best practice.

So, does it make sense for healthcare organisations to create handy mobile apps that HCPs can quickly and easily access on their smartphone so that they can check to make sure that they’re following the correct procedure?

Here are 5 key areas for you to consider that will help you to make an informed decision.

1. Does the pathway already exist already?
Because clinical pathways exist to promote efficient patient care based on evidence based practice they are more often than not available in a paper format but trying to track them down can be difficult. If the pathway already exists in paper based format then it’s more than likely that the pathway can be re-produced to work as an app, providing that there is a clear process that can be followed.

2. Can the pathway be used in its current format or does it need modifying?
Generally clinical pathways refer to medical guidelines. However a single pathway may refer to guidelines on several topics in a well specified context, for example both paediatric and adult pathways for a single indication, so it’s important to imagine the user and the point at which they may need to engage with the pathway. If the pathway is overly complex covering a number of topics, can it be reproduced in a number of different flavours making it easier for the end user to access the correct pathway more quickly?

3. Additional help information and any other relevant reference points.
Using the devices functionality a user will be guided through the process by answering relevant questions about the patient and their symptoms. In some cases the answer may not be entirely clear but developing the pathway as an app allows you to include additional information in the form of text, images and video to help clarify points and questions. In addition to this if there are other reference points that are relevant to the pathway, links can be built into these to help provide further explanation.

4. Test the app with local teams to check its effectiveness, sign off and launch the app and tell everyone about it.
As with any new tool, it’s important that you test it thoroughly before launching it for use by the whole of the department/organisation. Testing should involve making sure that each end-user can fully complete each specific task on the app that you set them. If they are unable to do so then you will be able to identify whether the app has a technical glitch or if the user journey is not clear and thus making it confusing for the end-user to complete the task. It’s also important to make sure that if the app is designed for use on multiple devices and operating systems, i.e. iPhone, Android, iPad, Blackberry, Microsoft etc, then make sure that you have users in your testing group that will be trialling the app on each of the devices and platforms that you will want the app to work on.

5. Track usage and improve the app where necessary
Even when the app is ‘live’ and in use it’s still important to capture data on its usage and give end-users the opportunity to submit feedback to highlight any glitches or possible areas for improvement. Your end-users can provide you with some useful insights into additional features and functionality that could help make the app even more useful and this can help to encourage more people to download it.

NHS Health Apps Library

In March this year The NHS Commissiong Board launched its Health Apps Library with the main aim of  making it easier for people to find health and medical apps that they can trust and which adhere to NHS safety standards in health IT.

With over 40,000 healthcare related apps available globally, a key focus for the NHS is on ensuring that the apps listed in the Library are all clinically safe and suitable for people who are living in the UK.  Dr Maureen Baker, Clinical Director for Patient Safety, and her team  developed a review process that applies, for the first time, safety standards in health technology to health apps.

At the time of writing this post I was able to discover around 70 apps listed on the site, so it is by no means a comprehensive source of information yet. The main focus is on apps aimed at patients but I would imagine that it would also be a useful place to list apps that are aimed specifically for use by healthcare professionals. As we know, many HCPs are using apps in their day to day roles to help perform medical calculations and diagnose patients etc, so adding a list of apps that have been tested and approved for use by HCPs would no doubt be of great value to them.

Communicating with Physicians on the Internet, What Healthcare Companies Need to Know.

There is no doubt that more and more doctors are coming around to the use of the digital world – according to Simon Grime Managing Director of Communications for Doctor.net.uk the UK’s largest and most active network of medical professionals.  Over 40,000 doctors engage with Doctors.net.uk each day – that’s over 25% of all UK doctors using the same website in a single day.

But, Grime warns, to make the most of the huge potential to engage with doctors online, pharma and healthcare companies must first make it their business to understand doctors’ needs and digital behaviour, so that they can be sure that they are providing the right content in the right format.

Grime points out that when contemplating any approach ‘en masse’ to medical professionals, the first thing to bear in mind is that they are not all the same.  Indeed, according to his experience Grime has observed that doctors online information and communication needs vary significantly according to such factors as their specialty, the age of the doctor and their nationality.

Work that Doctors.net.uk have done has shown, for instance, that:

    • Oncologists are more likely to download medical apps when compared to haematologists. (71% vs 51%)
    • Haematologists use the Internet much more frequently to read clinical papers than psychiatrists. (40% vs 8% use the Internet at least twice a day to read a clinical paper)
    • Rheumatologists are half as likely to visit pharma-operated websites in a typical month compared to Haematologists. (14% vs 30%)

Doctors.net.uk has also gathered information from other sources specifically data from their partners in the Networks in Health Alliance of Physician networks – which covers more than two million physicians worldwide through its online community networks.  They have found from this that there is considerable variation in physician attitudes and on-line behaviour across Europe.

Some interesting statistics that they have posted show that pharmaceutical representatives are most likely to be trusted by doctors in Spain and least likely to be trusted by them in the UK, Sweden and Germany.  Interestingly it is in the latter group where the use of the Internet and membership of independent online communities is more advanced and important to physicians that the greatest caution is observed.   Surprisingly, the work that Doctors.net.uk has done shows that the use of the Internet by doctors in France is significantly lower than doctors in other major European countries, although this picture, they report, is changing.

There is no doubt that making contact with online professional communities can provide the most effective method of making meaningful long-term relationships with any medical orientated audience.  They offer a wide array of prospects and exclusive understanding of the on-line physicians’ thinking and behaviour.

In a world where so much information is available, doctors, when they use the Internet are naturally seeking to ensure that they have the security of an authenticated and legitimate online sources within the medical and pharmaceutical community. These communities, therefore, are becoming the communications channel of choice for pharmaceutical companies who wish to reach medical professionals.

It follows therefore that those wishing to communicate with physicians and other medical professionals need first to do their research into the group they want to target with their message.  Then they need to understand those groups on line behaviour, if they want theirs to be the message that is received, understood and acted upon.

 

 

Social Media and the GP – A Tweet too far?

GP using TwitterThe General Medical Council is on the case! In a very 21st century directive to its members it advises:

The standards expected of doctors do not change because they are communicating through social media rather than face to face or through other traditional media. However, social media does raise new circumstances to which the established principles apply.

In days gone by a local doctor would have been part of a community and be well known by his patients.  In its way social media facilitates this kind of familiarity in our less personal modern environment.  Those medical professionals who resist using social media to reveal more of themselves to their community of patients, site the necessity for keeping a professional distance.  Then there are the issues surrounding confidentiality, can this really be maintained in a social media setting?  How much of a responsibility do doctors have to maintain privacy for a patient intent on disseminating their details on social networks?   Where decision-making on treatment is no longer the province of the treating physician but rather a shared decision between the patient and his or her doctor, can social media help towards a further understanding and de-mystification of procedures and diagnoses?  With more than half the UK population now using Facebook and a trend towards new sign ups in the 50 plus age group, this is a perfect platform surely for medical and other socially significant information to be circulated.

In the Untied States they have, of course, got all manner of doctors and healthcare professionals on Twitter with Facebook pages and more information being circulated than you could shake a stick at.  Here in the UK, I suspect your surgery might be a little slower to start tweeting about flu jabs or Christmas opening times, but it will come.

On the other side of the coin, social media has become part of all our lives – whether it is knowing the comings and goings of our celebrities on Twitter, establishing business contacts on LinkedIn or making contact with a long lost friend on Facebook this form of communication is well and truly entrenched in our society.

But, as patients, how would we feel about finding and communicating with a GP by social media? Patients have traditionally had very few tools at their disposal and those they do have tend to be geared towards the more drastic areas of dealings with the medical profession such as malpractice or complaint actions.  It is always possible to find out the qualifications and accreditations of a medical professional but what about her bedside manner?  His affinity with children?  A special interest in a specific complaint?

Well social media and contact with other people through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media platforms has opened the door to connection with all sorts of people – including doctors. With a little detective work, and the ability to pick up on the clues, shrewd patients can use social media to help them research and make an informed choice of the doctor or consultant they see.   If a doctor/consultant writes a blog, has a page on Facebook or Twitter followers, uploads photos to Flickr or even videos to YouTube, then you will know that, at the very least, he or she is in touch with the 21st century!

If you’d like to learn more about our healthcare and pharma social media marketing services, please contact us.