Not too often do we come across an app that impacts patient care as directly as Wolter Kluwer Health’s UpToDate.
Most medical apps out there on the market are either clinical tools, studying materials, calculators, or reference guides, and although Wolter Kluwer Health’s app still falls into these categorizations, it does so at a completely different level.
UpToDate has had a well established presence and credibility among the medical community for many years before entering the app arena.
Carrying significant weight and responsibility on its shoulders, UpToDate is one among the very few on the Android system that has a significant and influential role on physicians and in patient care.
Now that it’s here, lets take a look at UpToDate for Android, which has previously been reviewed for iOS devices.
Medicine is a rapidly evolving field and is heavily influenced by almost every aspect of our society from advancements in technology, new discoveries in research, current epidemics to political policies. Perhaps the field of medicine will never cease to change and sometimes keeping oneself up-to-date can be a daunting task that requires extraordinary commitment and resources.
Hence, Continuing Medical Education (CME) is emphasized and mandatory after residency or fellowship to keep physicians’ practices up to par with latest standardized guidelines. With the recent exponential growth of information technology, failing to keep up will quickly leave one lagging far behind.
In an attempt to consolidate different resources to provide physicians a one-stop website to all the latest clinical discoveries, Dr’s. Rose and Rush launched UpToDate back in 1992. 20 years later, UpToDate is now a well established online service, known to almost every US-based healthcare provider and used by numerous individuals and institutions. Over the years, UpToDate has built its database to cover almost every aspect of healthcare including the latest findings and recommendations on medical practice as well as background information on ailments as well. It is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and provides CME credits for physicians post-training.
From my own experience, I have encountered some physicians that distrust UpToDate, and discourage its use.
However, as a long time user myself, I believe if used correctly, UpToDate remains one of most resourceful tools that information technology has offered to physicians so far. Not only does UpToDate help physicians and students keep themselves “up-to-date,” it also offers direction and references to guide further investigations into specific topics if needed.
I have always wished for a dedicated UpToDate app on my phone, and it’s finally here. UpToDate definitely did not disappointment and has provided a great finished product that matches the quality of their work on their online website. At last, the power of UpToDate is literally in the palm of my hands and I could not be more excited! No more frantically hunting down an available computer in the hospital just to log onto UpToDate for point-of-care help–life is good.
Before delving into the details, I do need to mention that UpToDate is an online service that requires a subscription, which can get extremely pricey. Fortunately, most medical schools and hospitals provide complimentary subscriptions for their students and employees.
From my observations, UpToDate (or it’s competitors, e.g. MD consult) is quite widely available in hospital and academic settings. When loading up the app for the first time, you will be prompted to login with your account. If your institution does provide complementary service, you may need to ask for login information before you can access UpToDate via their mobile app.
After logging in, you are immediately brought to UpToDate’s menu of main functions that mimics its website counterpart’s. “Search” is where most of us will usually start off in our inquiries. As their second main function, it provides a decent library of medical calculators, which we will explore a little more later.
The “What’s New” section offers concise summaries of recent clinical updates and reviews, categorized by specialty allowing physicians to keep themselves informed in a relatively timely fashion. Next, the basic functionality of Bookmarks and History tracking, which are pretty much universal to medical reference apps, are unsurprisingly integrated into this app as well.