Quality and Safety Concerns for Medical Apps

I just read a brief perspective article in the journal Evidence Based Medicine, “Medical apps for smartphones: lack evidence undermines quality and safety.”  It is a quick little read and it brings up some very real and interesting points which I will try to summarize.

  1. There is no official vetting system for medical apps – Some apps are blatantly wrong and dangerous, some are out of date therefore also dangerous.
  2. Lack of information and clinical involvement in the creation of the apps – There is a paucity of information regarding the creator of the app. Some apps have no physician involvement.
  3. Companies (authors specifically mention Pharma) creating apps could create conflicts of interest and ethical issues – Pharma apps could produce drug guides or clinical decision tools that subtlety push their own products.

The FDA will regulate some apps but not all.  The FDA will regulate apps that control a medical device or displays, stores, analyzes patient data (example: electrocardiogram).  They will also regulate apps that use formulas or algorithms to give patient specific results such as diagnosis, treatment, recommendation or differential diagnosis.  Finally they will regulate apps that transform a mobile device into a medical device (example: apps that use attachments or sensors to allow the smartphone to measure blood glucose).

That still leaves a ton of medical apps hanging out there in the app stores which are largely unregulated.  The article states, “Until now, there has been no reported harm to a patient caused by a recalled app. However, without app safety standards, it is only a matter of time before medical errors will be made and unintended harm to patient will occur.”  Basically it is the Wild West in the medical app arena.

There are two groups that are trying to evaluate medical apps.  iMedicalApps.com and the Medical App Journal review various apps directed toward medical professionals.  I take issue with the article authors who state these sites are a “good starting point for peer-reviewing apps, the current assessment criteria do not address the scientific evidence for their content, but rather matters of usability, design, and content control.”  While I don’t use the Medical App Journal as often,  I use iMedicalApps.com quite often and they do more than just assess the usability and design. I have read reviews where they question the medical correctness of apps, intended audience, and have even pushed for more information regarding authorship/responsibility.  Several of their reviews questioned an app’s update schedule and updated content.  They have also investigated, questioned, and reported instances of fraud and plagiarism with medical apps.  I think iMedicalApps does a very good job in a very flooded market, but there are areas for improvement.  As with any website that relies on a large number of reporters/reviewers, there is some variance in the quality based on the reviewer.  I haven’t found any reviews that are bad, just some are better and more thorough than others.  Perhaps a little more explanation or transparency regarding how they determine the accuracy or validity of medical app might be helpful, or a standardized checklist about the things they look at.  I realize evaluating the latest UpToDate app is different compared to an app on EKGs.  UpToDate already has an established proven product where as there is more to investigate and validate with an app that isn’t a version of an already established product.

The authors believe the medical community needs to be more involved with regulating medical apps.  They suggest:

  1. Official certification marks guaranteeing quality
  2. Peer review system implemented by physicians’ associations or patient organizations
  3. Making high quality apps more findable by adding them to hospital or library collections

1.  I like the idea of having an official certification indicating quality, but there are two things that must be addressed prior to that.

First you have to get the organizations to actually take responsibility for looking at apps that are in their area of expertise. The field is already cumbersome, I am not sure many organizations are able to handle that. Although I have found that several journals have now included app reviews.  While they can’t come close to scratching the surface of medical apps, these journals often have MDs, RNs, MPTs writing reviews and evaluating the content.  Specifically I have found some good reviews in the physical therapy and nursing journals.

Second, there is growing problem with fake certifications. If an app is created by a company or people who already don’t care about its accuracy or is a plagiarizing a product, they probably have no qualms about lifting the image of the certification and posting it on their website.  They could create their own certifications to fake (but legit sounding) orgs and post those on their app’s site too.  Official certification is a good idea and I like it but there needs to be more to it to make sure it truly represents quality.

2. I personally believe the writers at iMedicalApps.com are on their way to something of a peer review system.  Right now they only have one person review an app.  While that completely makes sense from a writing perspective, perhaps they can implement some sort of peer review process where more than just one person is reviewing the app, yet still retain the one voice post for ease of reading.  Perhaps they could  reach out to a few medical professionals who are leaders in their field to review specific apps.  Thus giving the reviewed app a little bit more weight.  This along with astandardized check list or illustrating how they review the medical accuracy of an app would make the information on their site even more important and provide an excellent way of separating the wheat from the chaff.

3. An online repository of approved apps would be great.  Some hospital IT departments that have mobile device policies have this, but they seem to be only hospital type apps like Citrix or database subscription apps like LexiComp, PubMed, UpToDate, etc.  While these apps are important, there is little worry about apps like LexiComp, UpToDate, or PubMed because they were well established medical information products before their app.  Their app is just an extension of their verified product.  I don’t see a lot of  IT departments that have investigated having a pool of apps that aren’t hospital specific or from database subscriptions.  Additionally, IT would either need to rely on an outside sources like iMedicalApps or content experts within the field in that hospital to build the app pool.  IT would have no way of verifying the authenticity and validity of an app on pediatric emergency medicine.

Finally, getting hospitals to buy bulk licenses to apps is tricky at best.  With exception of a few places like Epocrates, Unbound Medicine, Inkling, and Skyscape (many of those companies dealt with institutional subscriptions before app stores….remember PDAs?) there are very few places that sell or license apps to a group of people.  The purchasing of apps was created as an individual service.  Now academic medical centers may have a foot in the door with iTunes U, but I have heard that discussions with Apple and their app store and hospitals is an “interesting” process.  The same principle applies to library repositories.  Instead of IT aggregating the apps, the library would do that.  There are a lot of library’s that already have great lists suggesting various medical apps.   But the vast majority of medical libraries have app resources guides, suggesting apps that the individual must buy.  Also just like with an IT repository of apps, the librarian must rely on sites like iMedicalApps.com or their own physician suggestions to ensure they are listing quality apps.

Like I said it is the Wild West when it comes to medical apps.  That is because the whole app industry is a new frontier.  There are quality and accuracy problems with other apps in the app stores. A pedometer app with errors is not going to kill somebody, but an inaccurate medical app can.  Yes, the medical community needs to get involved in evaluating apps, but so does Apple and Google.   Right now Apple’s iTunes store feedback and ranking system while good for games, is not adequate for medical apps and can easily be subject to fraud.  Additionally, Apple is extremely tight lipped about its app store rules and regulations.  Some apps have extreme difficulty getting approved, while others fly through approval process only to be mysteriously removed later.  There is no transparency to the Apple App Store.  For example, there is no information about the app Critical APPraisal which was determined to be a plagiarized version of Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal.  The app was available in the App Store July 2011.  However, if you searched today for the app, you wouldn’t be able to find it in the App Store, it simply disappeared.  Unless you happen to read the article in BMJ, iMedicalApps.com, or a few other British publications, you would have no clue as to why the app was removed.  When it comes to dangerous apps, disappearing them from the App Store is not good enough. You must have transparency when it comes to medicine.

**Update**

According to an updated BMJ article, the doctors accused of plagiarizing The Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal to use in their app Critical APPraisal, have been cleared of plagiarism by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

“A regulatory panel rejected charges by the General Medical Council (GMC) that Afroze Khan, Shahnawaz Khan, and Zishan Sheikh acted dishonestly in knowingly copying structure, contents, and material from a book, The Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal, when developing their Critical APPraisal app, representing it as their own work, and seeking to make a gain from the material.”

Shahnawaz Khan and Afroze Khan were also accused of dishonestly posting positive reviews of the app on the Apple iTunes Store without disclosing that they were co-developers and had a financial interest in the app.  The GMC found that Shahnawaz Khan  no evidence that he knew that the app, which was initiallly free, would later sold for a fee. His case was concluded without any findings.  However, the GMC panel found that “Afroze Khan’s conduct in posting the review was misleading and dishonest.” Yet they considered this type of dishonesty to be “below the level that would constitute impairment of this fitness to practise.”  The GMC panel said it was an isolated incident and did not believe it would be repeated in which they “considered his good character and testimonials attesting to his general probity and honesty and decided not to issue a formal warning.”

 

Share on Facebook

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - September 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

Categories: Apps   Tags:

Plagiarism of Medical Text in Medical Apps

In a recent post, Timothy Aungst from iMedicalApps.com sheds more light on the trend of copying established medical textbooks and repurposing it in a medical app that they sell on iTunes.  Aungst cites a recent report in BMJ, where three doctors, “Afroze Khan, Zishan Sheikh, and Shahnawaz Khan face charges of dishonesty in knowingly copying structure, contents, and material from the Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal, by Narinder Gosall and Gurpal Gosall, when developing the app, representing it as their own work and seeking to make a gain from the plagiarised material.” Not only did the doctors plagiarize the text, but according to Aungst and BMJ the doctors also sought to increase their ratings within iTunes by writing reviews of their own apps without disclosing an conflict of interest.

This type of plagiarism is not new. In fact as Aungst states iMedicalApps.com Editor, Tom Lewis, discovered several apps in iTunes that plagiarized other works.  (I wrote a brief post about Tom’s finding while I was on vacation last year.) I can see from Tom’s comment that while he never heard directly from Elsevier regarding the issue, YoDev apps LLC had all of their apps pulled from the App Store.

Copying and re-posting a book online or through bit torrents for free is so 2005.  Welcome to the new world where plagiarizing can make you money. All you have to do is steal the content and sell it in an app.  They are also sneakier than they were in 2005.  They aren’t selling the app under the original book title, they are changing the name and trying to market it as something totally different.   Hmm it seems requiring users to use personal logins to view the PDF is really working to curb copyright violations.

***Update***

According to an updated BMJ article, the doctors accused of plagiarizing The Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal to use in their app Critical APPraisal, have been cleared of plagiarism by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

“A regulatory panel rejected charges by the General Medical Council (GMC) that Afroze Khan, Shahnawaz Khan, and Zishan Sheikh acted dishonestly in knowingly copying structure, contents, and material from a book, The Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal, when developing their Critical APPraisal app, representing it as their own work, and seeking to make a gain from the material.”

Shahnawaz Khan and Afroze Khan were also accused of dishonestly posting positive reviews of the app on the Apple iTunes Store without disclosing that they were co-developers and had a financial interest in the app.  The GMC found that Shahnawaz Khan  no evidence that he knew that the app, which was initiallly free, would later sold for a fee. His case was concluded without any findings.  However, the GMC panel found that “Afroze Khan’s conduct in posting the review was misleading and dishonest.” Yet they considered this type of dishonesty to be “below the level that would constitute impairment of this fitness to practise.”  The GMC panel said it was an isolated incident and did not believe it would be repeated in which they “considered his good character and testimonials attesting to his general probity and honesty and decided not to issue a formal warning.”

Share on Facebook

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - September 17, 2013 at 10:46 am

Categories: Apps, Electronic Access, Technology   Tags:

Behind the Scenes: What is a SIG?

Here we go with another Behind the Scenes post, this one will be about SIGs.  

In my previous post I talked about Sections. SIGs and Sections often get confused with each other, perhaps because SIG information is on the Section Council website and Section Council represents SIGs via the Chair of the Section/SIG Review Committee.  SIGs stands for Special Interest Groups.  SIGs are “ad hoc groups open to all members of the association. SIGs range from a series of informal meetings on a specific, short-term issue to an established subgroup within an MLA section.” 

There are 21 SIGs in MLA (view list here).  SIGs “provide a forum for members with unique interests to identify and meet with others with similar interests without having to fulfill the governance requirements of Sections. SIGs are generally created as less formal and more flexible organizational units, with the advantages of fewer reporting and no minimum membership requirements.” IMHO think of a SIG as the light version of Section.

SIGs are less structured than Sections but offer MLA members with similar interests to get together and share information as a group.  Instead of a Chair, Past Chair, Chair Elect and Treasurer/Secretary, SIGs only have a convener or co-conveners who are the contact person(s) with MLA and who organize meetings and other activities.  Usually the convener submits the SIGs annual report to MLA. The SIGs annual report is much simpler than a Section’s annual resport.  Here is a sample Word Doc of a SIG annual report.

SIG members must be MLA members.  SIGs are not allowed to collect dues or do fundraising, therefore it is free to join a SIG.  That sounds great, but having no money might present problems when it comes to speakers, panels, and fundraising for MLA programs.  If a SIG needs to fundraise for a program then it needs to partner with a Section. Sections are allowed to have a treasury. 

SIG conveners can request a meeting room at the annual meeting.  They can have speakers or panels at their business meeting. But since they don’t have a treasury they cannot pay for speakers or panels.  Additionally, the speakers or panels will not be listed in detail in the formal annual meeting program. SIGs can sponsor a CE course or symposia for MLA CE. The proposals must be submitted 18-24 months before the annual meeting and must follow the established MLA procedures.

SIGs cannot be the only sponsor for an MLA annual meeting program.  They must partner with at least one Section if they wish to sponsor a program at MLA.  Sections, Chapters, and the NPC are the only groups that can sponsor MLA programs by themselves.  Usually Sections, Chapters, and the NPC look for co-sponsors for the MLA programs and SIGs can be co-sponsors. 

SIGs are great way to get involved with other librarians without the cost or the duties/requirements of Sections.  Many librarians are members of both SIGs and Sections.  When looking to get involved choose the SIG or Section that meets your needs. 

As always this Behind the Scenes post was created from information on MLA’s website and the Section Council website.  Understanding the various groups within MLA can get confusing and I hope by compiling the information into a series of posts it can help shed some light on the association.

Since the deadline to apply for an MLA Committee is fast approaching (October 31st) my next Behind the Scenes post will be on MLA Committees and how do you get on them.  Hintapply to join a committee it is a great way to get involved, to learn about MLA and meet people.

Share on Facebook

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - September 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

Categories: Behind the Scenes   Tags:

What is the Biggest Thing in Medical Libraries

A few weeks ago over dinner and drinks my public librarian friend and I got into a very interesting and lively brainstorming discussion about the biggest “things” that have or will hit libraries. The conversation was all over the place.

Some of the things we discussed:

  • Budgets or Tax Proposals
  • Closing of libraries or space problems
  • Competition – Used to be book stores but who is it now?
  • Technology – 3D printers, Google Glass, ebooks, virtual reality
  • Outreach – embedded librarians, phone booth libraries, gas station out reach
  • Legislation – ACA, local issues, NIH, NSA spying
  • Staffing – Where is that giant hiring push?  Staff retire and aren’t replaced.

This discussion has been bouncing around in my head for a while and I keep thinking about the “things” (good or bad) that will affect specifically medical librarians and librarianship.

In your opinion what are the major things to to be hitting medical libraries in the near future?

Is it:

  • Afordable Care Act – Hospitals tightening budgets (and thus the library’s budget) in response to lower reimbursement
  • Meaningful Use – Promote the spread of EHRs to improve health care in the United States
  • Big Data – Its use in hospitals and biomedical research
  • Space – Change of library space from holding books to services? (Often means shrinking of library space)
  • Electronic resources- What isn’t available electronic these days!? Access and usage across devices and outside of the institution.
  • Employment – In response to some of the above instititutional issues, librarians are losing their jobs or are not being replaced as they retire or move to another position.
  • e-Science – Better known as just science within scientific community, but is heavy on the tech, data, and social side of things

I think all of those thing are going to make an impact on medical libraries. But if you had to narrow it down to one thing from the above list, or something I havne’t listed, what would be the biggest thing medical librarians must deal with on the horizon?

Please make it a discussion by commenting below and on Twitter #hittingmedlibs.

Share on Facebook

8 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

Categories: Other Medical Library Stuff   Tags:

The Journal App Wars

I have doctors asking about all four journal browsing apps; Docwise, Docphin, Read, and Browzine (click links for reviews on each app. The reviews were either done by me or guest librarians who had access to the app).  A few of the requesting doctors have used one of the above products, but it seems the vast majority of the doctors haven’t used any of the apps and are asking based on word of mouth. 

The four apps are very similar.  To me it is a bit like comparing PubMed vs Ovid Medline, both do the job well but differently.  You also have people who prefer one over the other.  One is free while the other is not. 

The biggest difference is that three of the apps show the abstracts and tables of contents to almost every medical journal known to man (I over exaggerate of course).  The full text is provided if the library/institution as a subscription to that journal.  However, there is no clear branding or explannation of what journals the library/instituion owns because Docwise, Docphin, and Read don’t know.   If a doctor views the table of contents for the Journal of Big Toe Science in Docwise, Docphin, or Read  (which is not owned by the library), the doctor is denied the full text.  Last time I checked, there was no clear message as to why they can’t get the full text. Docwise, Docphin, or Read didn’t say soemthing like, “Your library doesn’t subscribe to this journal therefore you can’t access the full text.” Docwise, Docphin, and Read do not know the library/institutions holding or access methods.

Browzine does know what the library/institution owns.  Because the library submits the list (with access methods) to Third Iron (the company that owns Browzine).  Browzine only shows those journals to doctors. There is no guessing as to whether it is available full text to the doctor.  If it is in Browzine, it should be available full text.

Let’s pretend that my hospital library provided proxy access to resources. (Most hospital libraries don’t have proxy servers to provide access to journals or other resources.)  I could have my pick of these apps to provide to my users.  My question for librarians is: Do I list all four apps and let them decide what they want?  I have a very strong feeling (based on 15 years of answering doctor’s library questions) that doctors are going to be complaining about Docwise, Docphin, or  Read not providing the full text.  After all, if the library recommended a product that connects users to the full text, shouldn’t everything be full text?

What do other libraries do?  Do you list all of the apps and let the users decide?  Do you worry that there might be confusion among the apps because they are so similar but slightly different? Do you worry that doctors might feel frustrated when they can’t get the full text? Would doctors even bother ordering the unavailable article (going outside of the app to do this) through the library? 

I appreciate your thoughts and comments. Because sometimes I feel with these journal apps I am being asked to pick between Coke and Pepsi, Ovid and PubMed.  I know the difference between them, but my users don’t. Does it matter?

Share on Facebook

3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Categories: Apps, Electronic Access, Technology   Tags:

Get MLA CE for Participating in #medlibs Chat

The #medlibs chat group will be hosting a five week series presented by the University of Massachusetts Medical School Lamar Soutter Library.

Here are the weekly chats:

  1. August 15th: Host: Donna Kafel Topic: e-Science portal
  2. August 22nd: Host: Kevin Read Topic:e-Science thesaurus
  3. August 29th: Host: Andrew Creamer Topic: New England Collaborative Data Management Curriculum
  4. Sept. 5: Host: Sally Gore Topic: Role of the informationist on research teams
  5. Sept. 12: Hosts: Lisa Palmer & Kate Thornhill Topic: Institutional repositoriesand open access

Discussing e-science issues on #medlibs is a great way to learn more about the topic, but the icing on the cake is that these chats have been approved for free (or near free at $5) MLA CE!

While this is a cool opportunity, there are rules for getting the CE. 

  1. No partial CE hours will be awarded.
  2. Participation is measured by at least 3 tweets during each #medlibs chat session as shown by the chat transcript discussion AND/OR a reflective summary paragraph about the chat transcript discussion posted as a comment to each week’s blog post at http://medlibschat.blogspot.com/

In her post Nikki says that MLA pre-approved this e-science series for CE.  If there are costs they would go directly MLA according to their Discussion Group Program.  Nikki has graciously volunteered her time to be the convener for the program, verify participation,  administer evaluations, and issue the CE.

The CE may or may not be free. If it is not free, it will be extremely cheap. It will only cost $5! Whether the CE is free or $5 will be clarified soon by MLA and announced when known.

If there is a fee for the CE, please note the following:

  1. Participation will not be tracked or awarded to those who indicate they will only take it for free if a cost is required.
  2. PayPal will be used to collect funds if there is a cost for CE. The convener (Nikki Dettmar) will email all participants who have indicated they will pay a cost for CE with further instructions.
  3. If there is a cost for CE and you have not paid by the end of the series, no CE will be awarded. There will not be followup/reminder emails.

To learn more about the e-science series go to the #medlibs blog. To register for the CE go to this link.

What a great opportunity. Kudos to Nikki for all of her hard work coordinating this.  Thank you to the weekly hosts.  I have a lot to learn about e-science and I am going to sign up.

Share on Facebook

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

Categories: Educational Opportunities, Technology, Twitter   Tags:

Behind the Scenes: MLA Sections

Here we go with another Behind the Scenes post, this one will be about Sections.  

In my previous post I said:

Chapters and Sections are different entities. If you belong to MLA you don’t not automatically belong to a Chapter or Section. You have to pay to be a member of a Chapter or Section.

Just because you belong to a Chapter it doesn’t mean you belong to a Section and vice versa. 

There are 22 Sections for MLA. They represent the varied areas of specialization of librarianship. Sections meet annually and share information during the year through informal networking and newsletters.  Some Sections like the Hospital Library Section have a lot of members and some Sections are smaller like the Dental Section.  A complete description of all the Sections can be found here.

Each Section has officers and committee chairs some of those positions can vary according to the Section. MLA provides a general bylaw model for Sections, and you can find each Section’s specific bylaws on their site.

Each Section has:

  • Chair (or President)
  • Past Chair (or Past President)
  • Chair Elect (or President Elect) 
  • Treasurer/Secretary

Terms of service for the Chair are usually three years, other positions terms of service may vary according to the Section.  The Chair Elect serves as the Chair when the he/she is unable to do so.  In most Sections the Chair Elect also serves as the programming chair for the next annual meeting.  For example at the 2013 meeting, the newly elected Section Chair Elects met and discussed the programming for 2014. They will continue to do the programming for the annual meeting after the meeting via email. 

The Chair presides over all meetings Section meetings and establishes the yearly goals of the Section, presents those to MLA (via report) and submits annual reports on the activities and goals of the Section. 

Just like Chapters, Sections have a Section Council which represents the Sections as a whole to the Board of Directors of MLA. The Past Chair serves as the Section representative on the MLA Section Council by attending the meetings of the Council.  

If it sounds like a lot, don’t worry because the good news is that Section Council has an online manual to help Chairs know what do to do while in office.  Additionally, you probably aren’t going to be joining a Section and becoming Chair right away, so if you get invovled you will have the opportunity to see how each person’s role works within the Section. 

I think joining a Section is a great way to get involved.  Picking a Section is a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I don’t mean to say that you are house crashing at the Section Chair’s home.  What I mean is that you may need to try a few out before you find a Section that fits “just right.”  Don’t be afraid to join a Section for free during the Shuffle years and often you can sign up to be a part of a Section’s listserv to see if you would like to join the Section.

I hope this helps clarify a bit about MLA Sections.  I hope to do a post soon on SIGs (which are not Sections).  Like my previous Behind the Scenes series of posts, all of the information is available online and really isn’t behind the any scene.  But since it is in different locations it can be difficult to find making it sometimes difficult to know what is going on. Everything I have written here is available and can be found on MLA’s website, Section websites, and Section  Council Website.  It is just a matter of finding the information and bringing it together. 

Please let me know if you there is any other subject that you think would be good for the Behind the Scenes series.

Share on Facebook

3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

Categories: Behind the Scenes   Tags:

Friday Fun: Taubman Library Blues Brothers?

I spent this last week getting caught up from my vacation.

beach

I thought I would start off with a Friday Fun post to get me back into the blogging world after a very stressful week of trying not to turn into a lobster.

The twitterverse alerted me to this little video featuring our illustrious Past President of MLA, Jane Blumenthal.  I thought it was a creative way of telling people about Taubman Health Sciences Library moving the older books and journals to the Health Sciences Remote Storage Facility.

While the car that Jane and Paul use was certainly cool, nothing can eclipse the original Bluesmobile.  The outtakes are just as fun to watch as the polished video.  Well done.

Share on Facebook

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 9, 2013 at 10:19 am

Categories: Friday Fun   Tags:

Friday Fun: Why I Chose a Windows Phone

Below is a guest post from my husband about his Windows Phone.  A while back ago I asked him to write a post comparing the different phones he has had.  He the only person I know who has had an iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows phone and is not working for CNET or another technology review company.  He has used and lived with each of these phones at some period of time.  He started with the iPhone 3G then moved to the Android.  He had a Blackberry for work and now has a Galaxy S4 for his work phone.  He currently has a Windows Phone as his personal phone. 

He started out writing a big ol’ post comparing all of the platforms but realized lots of people have already done that, so why reinvent the wheel.  It was after some good natured teasing I gave him about his Windows phone that he decided to write his post about his phone. 

So enjoy your Friday Fun guest post and maybe it might get you thinking about a Windows phone.  I have to admit, as much as I tease him, he is right about the Office capabilities being a big plus.

—–
My name is Mike and I am a Windows Phone user. 

Yes, I know.  There are actually some of us out there and believe it or not, we really do like it.  Alot. 

It was a long winding path to get here, over the iOS river and through the Android woods.  I won’t bore you with the details but I have had plenty of exposure to both of the major platforms through personal and work devices.  

 Using Apple products has always felt to me like I’m living in a subdivision with an overzealous homeowners’ assocation.  It’s very clean and everything works but God help me if I want to put up non-sactioned Christmas lights or change the flag on my mailbox.    

 I won’t even mention iTunes.  I’m still seeing a therapist over that.

 When I went to Android it was for the promise of the exact opposite of the iPhone experience.  Open, free, do whatever you want.  It was the Summer of Love all over again.

 But the more time I spent within that user interface, the jarring transitions from one app to another and the inconsistent overall delivery of the experience, it began to feel more and more that I had taken the brown acid and was in for a bad trip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKoLlKmQSHU

 The app quality and overall safety itself wasn’t exactly what I had in mind either.   Downloading something from the Google app store felt like the smartphone version of the Russian roulette scene from The Deerhunter.

 It was at my moment of greatest smartphone despair that I found myself at an AT&T store and face to face with a Nokia Lumia.  What do I have to lose?  I told my then five year old son to stand still and try and be quiet while I tried something.  While he went and did the total opposite of that I took the phone for a test drive.

I work for a software company so I have used countless numbers of different programs on different platforms over the course of my career.  The Windows Phone UI was one of the simplist, most intuitive I had ever used.  

 Even using one hand and half my brain to try and corral a kid who was going Dennis the Menace inside the store, I effortlessly moved through the interface.  I read (fake) e-mail and text messages, did a quick Google search and was even able to take a photo of my son hiding behind the Samsung Galaxy Note display (thanks to the dedicated camera button on the side).

 The more I used it and the more I read about it, it was like having the best of both worlds.  The live tiles and the Metro (Modern UI) interface gave every app a uniform sameness but yet there was a freedom to change and different ways to view and do things.  It was like the hippies had grown up, moved into the subdivision, and gotten rid of the rules but still kept their lawns mowed at a reasonable height.   

The first time I emailed myself a couple of Word documents and an Excel spreadsheet for a meeting and they opened without so much as a single glitch I almost cried.  

 Even the physical qualities were to my taste.  I like a little heft to my phone, something that doesn’t feel like it will  fly out of my hand as soon as I pull it out of my pocket.  For example, my two year old daughter’s pink barrettes feel sturdier than the Galaxy S4 I use for work.  

 I could go on and on (and maybe I will if the Krafty Librarian gets lazy and needs me to fill up more space).  If you find yourself in the smartphone doldrums like I was, I highly recommend you at least pick one up and give it a try.  

 Or you might just be happier like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z19vR1GldRI

Share on Facebook

2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

Categories: Friday Fun, SmartPhones, Technology   Tags:

The Doctor’s Instagram

The app Figure 1 has been getting a lot of press recently.  I learned about it a few weeks ago but I am just now getting around to mentioning it here.

Figure 1 is being called the Instagram for doctors.  It is a crowdsourced  images database app.  The crowd happens to be doctors, and the images happen to be medical images.  The app is a collection of medical images submitted by doctors to share, collaborate and learn from.  Doctors are verified using their institutional email address.  The app takes patient privacy very seriously.  It has a face detection program that automatically blocks out the face in a submitted photo and it includes other editing tools to remove other identifying features.  A HIPPA authorization digital consent form is also included.  Patients click the agree button then sign screen/form.

You don’t have submit any images to benefit from the app according to their site. “First of all, you can still access the images that others are posting so that you can learn from them, use them as a reference for your own practice, or comment on them so that others can learn from you.”

David Ahn at iMedicalApps posted a great review describing the positives and negatives of this novel app.  He notes some of the limitations of the app are the indexing of the images and lack of identifying information.  Ahn discovered upon doing a search for heliotrope rash that the first seven results were “clearly not a heliotrope rash.” As librarians know, indexing images is tricky.  Ahn noted Figure 1  also pulls images from outside medical websites (non-user submitted images) and a link to the website instead of the submitter’s name is listed.  However the outside images have “no captions, markings, or even any clear diagnosis listed.”  Besides the obvious problems with lack of identifying information, Figure 1 displays user submitted images before web scraped images.  As Ahn illustrated with the heliotrope rash, this can cause problems because the correct image (scraped from the web) was buried below the 7 incorrect ones (user submitted ones).

Additionally, I find doctors not only want to see and share images, but they often want to include them in presentations and slides for teaching purposes.  Right now you can only share the images through the app.  Emailing a colleague an image gives them a simple email (below) requiring them to use Figure 1 to see the image.  Making it so Figure 1 images can be used in presentations would make this Instagram like app even more useful to doctors and medical professionals.

 figure1email

This is a very new app. It appears they launched in May 2013, so it isn’t surprising that there is some room for improvement.  I don’t know of any products or apps that are perfect 3 months from their launch.  Yet as of today, it is the 5th most downloaded app in the Medical category of iTunes and according the MedicalApps post, the app is outpacing Landy’s projections.  So, given its popularity I expect to see some improvements relatively soon.

What I found to be interesting was Dr. Landy describing to Ahn his reason for creating this app.

Dr. Landy wondered how he could quickly access a medical image database to assist in identifying new clinical pathologies. This question eventually led him to create Figure 1. Like many physicians, he was not satisfied with the paywalls of private medical image libraries or with Google Images’ lack of medical selectivity.

Furthermore, when it came to sharing medical images with his peers, he found e-mail inefficient, as images would often get drowned out amidst ballooning inboxes. As a result, he helped create Figure 1, a free, crowdsourced medical image sharing resource that is quickly and easily accessible for health care practitioners.

Finding good medical images has always been a booger, and Dr. Landy is right about the frustrations of pay walls.  I would extend it a bit further to say that not only is the paywall part is a barrier to finding medical images, but the siloed nature of these medical image sites is a massive barrier as well.  Even if somebody has paid for these medical image sites, there is no repository or online catalog of all the image packages bought from different companies.  That makes searching for images difficult even if you paid for them.

I am curious to see how Figure 1 evolves and what impact it will have on doctors finding images.  I am also curious to see how/if subscription companies with medical image silos might adapt as a result of apps like Figure 1.

Share on Facebook

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

Categories: Apps, Technology   Tags:

« Previous PageNext Page »