Learning medicine through a clinical case simulator app for Android

by: Guido Giunti

Medical Joyworks’ “Prognosis: Your Diagnosis” has been around for quite a while for the iPhone and about a year or so for Android OS so we decided to take a look at the port and see how the experience translates.

For those of you who are not familiar with this app let me elaborate a bit before plunging forward. “Prognosis: your diagnosis” is meant to be a clinical case simulator that aims to provide an entertaining experience as well as a practice platform to keep professionals’ and professionals-to-be’s diagnostic skills sharp as a needle.

The company is based in Sri Lanka and its founder is an M.D. who gave up his practice to pursue his goal of making medical apps friendlier to the medical community. Introductions aside, let’s head once more into the breach and start test driving this baby.

The App

After the loading screen quietly goes away we are greeted with the app’s main screen labeled “Main Menu” which lists the different cases the app has to offer which can be sorted by specialties such as “Medicine”, “Surgery”, “Gyn & Obs” and “Pediatrics”. One thing that stands out is that the Android version no longer has cases pre-downloaded and ready to go, rather one selects which cases to check out and waits for them to download.

This is a reasonable change considering that the app’s case database has increased significantly since its first launch. All in all, that’s not a major issue since cases take less than 30 seconds to download on 2G and even less on 3G or Wi-Fi.

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Once we select and download a case, we are given a brief “History” of the patient that provides us with the patient’s condition and its evolution along with other relevant information. On the bottom of the screen we can “Examine” the patient and get a cartoonish picture along with signs that we would find when performing the pertinent exploration.

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When we are ready to proceed with the case just tap “Investigate” to see the list of complementary studies that we can order to confirm or rule out our presumptions.

However, due to space issues, the readouts of these studies may seem somewhat simple and make you feel like you are getting the “for dummies version” of your usual lab results, which might be a turn off if you want to do a more in depth analysis of the situation.

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Let’s assume we have ordered all the studies we wanted and we already know what our patient has. Now we can decide how to “Manage” the patient’s condition and we do that by selecting the treatment or measure we find appropriate and just tap “Finish” to see how we fared.

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Our results are graded ranging from “Poorly”, “Satisfactory” and “Very Well” and we can get a detailed view of what we did right, what we did wrong, what we didn’t do and what we should have done.

If we touch the “Discuss” button we will be walked through the reasoning behind the case and we are also provided references which back up such reasoning. Should we want to we can also “Share” our results on Facebook so all our friends know how well we did.

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Thoughts

As I started using the app I noticed a key element missing from its iPhone cousin: it has no help section! Now, the app’s user interface is easy enough to understand at first glance but one can’t help but wonder why a developer would choose to leave out something as fundamental as information on how to use their software.

Another thing that strikes me as odd is that the app doesn’t take advantage of the standard Android buttons like “Search” (which would come in handy given that the app now stores several dozen cases) or the “Menu” button which could have been used as a place to set up your Facebook account or maybe tell us about the company’s latest developments or even a link back to the company’s website. These last few items could be seen as nitpicking or non-issues if it weren’t for the fact that only going out of your way to check Medical Joyworks’ blog would you discover such a fantastic feature as the Case Builder.

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If I had any doubts as to whether “Prognosis: Your Diagnosis” had the potential to be something more than just an amusing app the case builder cleared them straight up. The use of this feature allows you to create your own cases and upload them to the case database without having to know how to code a single line. This baby expands what the app can do as a learning tool by an umpth.

Although the Case Builder could use a few tweaks here and there, one can see teachers using apps like this to better train medical students.

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • Easy enough to use as practice
  • Big case database
  • Case builder
  • Good for students

Dislikes:

  • GUI could be clearer
  • Cases often feel simple

Conclusion:

  • I must say that the app really does the job of being fun and it’s good to kill a couple of minutes in your spare time
  • As far as fully fledged M.Ds. are concerned it might just deserve a passing glance but its educational value is what makes this app worthwhile to students and teachers alike changing the pace of the learning process

Google Play Link

Author:

Guido Giunti, MD

Healthcare IT Research Associate at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires on the subject of gamification and games in healthcare. He teaches Internal Medicine and Physical Examination at the University of Buenos Aires.

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