Pocket Derm app provides a simple, quick reference for common skin conditions [iPhone]

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By: Darwin Wan, MS II

Since dermatology is not always emphasized in most medical schools’ curriculums, I was pretty excited to try Pocket Derm. The concept of the app is similar to Shelley’s 77 Skins, a set of flash cards that  claims to cover 95% of “what you need to know” with its 77 skin conditions. While Pocket Derm does not make  such a claim, I was nonetheless looking forward to having information at my fingertips on many of the skin conditions that I might encounter.

Pocket Derm is a very simple app. There is a list of diagnoses from which to pick, covering a variety of skin conditions, from acne to condyloma accuminata to melanoma. The app has a large number of skin conditions, though by no means comprehensive. Interestingly, there is a tab available for users to request diagnoses that they wish to see included in the app.

Each skin condition includes a brief definition, a link to a glossary for medical terms used in the definition, and photographic examples of the condition (usually just one photo).

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While I found it handy to have a list of all these skin conditions, I did find the content for each skin condition a bit sparse. Pocket Derm’s clinical utility appears to be limited to providing a quick reference for medical students seeking to familiarize themselves with common skin conditions. I imagine it could be hard to diagnose conditions based on a single photo and brief definition. Including sections for history, etiology, differential, complications and management, or even including a link for internet search would have greatly enhanced the app’s clinical utility. As it stands, Pocket Derm’s core function feels a bit like a light version of the dermatology portion of Epocrates Essentials.

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Pocket Derm also includes a glossary section for dermatologic terms. I actually find this section very useful. As a medical student often faced with deciphering a heap of new terms daily, I often glaze over terms for which I only know the approximate meaning. The glossary section was very useful for quickly defining terms and understanding the difference between dermatology terms such as nodules versus papules.

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Overall, Pocket Derm is a simple but useful app for the beginning dermatology learner. Its use is mainly in helping students familiarize themselves with common dermatologic conditions and terms. Its clinical utility is limited due to the sparse content for each disease, and the app would greatly benefit  even from including a  link to a Google search or Wikipedia page (not that I endorse Wikipedia as a source for clinical decision-making, but links to it are simple to add).

Likes

  • Good overview and reference for common dermatologic conditions
  • Simple and quick to navigate

Dislikes

  • Relatively sparse content limits clinical utility

Conclusion

Pocket Derm is a nice, simple app for people interested in learning about some common skin conditions. If you have access or a subscription to a more robust disease database app, you may not need this app.

iTunes link, Price $ 0.99

Darwin Wan, B.Sc(Kin) is a second year medical student at the University of Alberta, and currently servies as the Information Technology Officer for the student body.

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