A personalized medical journal is a great idea for an app but Read needs further refinement

One of the ways that modern technology can support doctors is by bringing key information to the point of care. We see this in many medical apps that contain relevant guidelines, drug information and even the latest research. Bringing the latest evidence to the point of care is one of the main reasons for owning a mobile device.

Despite this, the number of apps designed to help make research mobile is relatively limited (if we exclude journals). QxMD has recently released a free app called ‘Read’ which is their take on making research mobile.

Billed as  ‘a single place to keep up with new research, read outstanding topic reviews and search PubMed’, Read has set a decent challenge for itself.

Before I go further, I think that this is a fantastic app idea. I believe that the doctors of the future will use apps like Read to have the latest news delivered direct to their mobile device. The challenge is in making an app powerful enough to deal with PubMed, yet simple enough to easily access and find the articles you want.

Read launches by asking the user to sign up and choose which profession you are part of. It will then cleverly display a list of journals from which you can select the ones that you want to keep updated. There is a recommendation to choose 5 or less otherwise the app may become slow.

Once you have selected your journals, the app will automatically search for and download their respective headers to your device. These are displayed by title, author and conclusion so it is easy to pick and choose which papers you would like to read. Tapping on a paper brings you to the abstract before a final tap leads to the full paper. This cleverly gives you the information you want to know so you are not overloaded.

There are some great modern approaches towards data management employed by Read. For example, if you find a paper that you find interesting, you can save it as a favorite or ‘tag’ it using user defined labels. This allows you to rapidly build up collections of various articles under different headings.

One of the best features about QxMD is their refreshing approach to journal paywalls, athens login and so on. They have built in support for a huge range of institutions and walk you through the process of setting up a proxy access point. This is really useful as it means that you can automatically view and download the PDF versions of papers without needing to access multiple web logins.

Despite the fact that I was unable to get this to work with my institutional subscription, I recognize that this is a very powerful feature and something other PubMed search apps should be looking to integrate.

The general user interface of Read is excellent and well laid out. The app is responsive with a clean UI.

Seems like Read is all positive. For the most part it is, though, there are some issues that I think need addressing before doctors can be really encouraged to use this kind of resource.

Foremost, any kind of medical literature management system should have some way to export the labels and collections. There are few universal standards for this and so it is not Read’s fault specifically but rather an industry issue that needs to change to encourage innovation and development.

Secondly, one of Reads proud features is that it allows you to search PubMed using their own algorithms. In theory this is a great idea and certainly something that is required given the size and scale of PubMed. However, none of the trial searches I carried out revealed any results even though a simple normal PubMed search revealed the results I was expecting.

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • Innovative one touch paper access using institutional login proxy
  • Impressive user interface
  • The article display highlighting conclusion-abstract-paper

Dislikes:

  • Search function not 100% effective
  • No way to export collections

Overall

  • The idea of a personalised medical journal is a great one and will almost certainly be one of the ways future clinicians access medical knowledge. However Read requires a little more development before doctors can fully embrace the opportunities it offers.

iTunes Link

 

Rating:
Overall: 4/5 Stars
User Interface: 4/5 stars.
Multimedia Coverage: 4/5
Price: 5/5 Stars.
Real World Applicability: 4/5 Stars

 

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.

Author:

Tom Lewis

Editor, iMedicalApps.com

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2 Responses to A personalized medical journal is a great idea for an app but Read needs further refinement

  1. QxMD Medical Apps January 16, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    Thanks for the great review on Read! We love hearing from all of our users and we use your feedback to help guide the development of our apps.

    We wanted to point out a couple items that may be useful for your readers:

    - In the most recent version of the app (available in the App Store now), we’ve removed the 5 journal limit. Now you can choose as many journals as you would like with no slow down!

    - We’ve looked into the proxy setup for your institution and found the bug preventing it from working. The next update will include a fix for this. If anyone else if having trouble getting their proxy to work, just email support@qxmd.com and we’ll try our best to get it sorted out ASAP

    - In the latest version of the app, we’ve also updated the Journals and Collections sections to now show an unread paper count so that you can keep track of which Journals/Collections have new papers since you last read. And we’re working on an optional Push Notification system that will automatically alert you when new papers are available. It really streamlines the process of staying on top of the literature!

    - We are working on making the Search feature even better than it is now. You should see some further improvements to this in the near future.

    - We have several very exciting features on the way. Though I can’t reveal exactly what they are, I can say that I think they will address some of your other comments in the article.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful review. And to all our users, please keep the feedback coming (support@qxmd.com)!

  2. Harshan Jeyakumar January 17, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    The PDF feature on this app works brilliantly for me (iOS) and the fact you can then email those PDFs to others was even better. The app works brilliantly in my opinion but could possibly have a feature to distinguish between research articles/reviews and letters/commentary as it can make browsing a bit tedious.

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