Diagnosaurus is an app that you might be familiar with if your hospital / medical school uses Access Medicine. It’s on the homepage the Access Medicine portal.

Diagnosaurus helps you form a differential diagnosis (it helps you come up with a list of possible diseases or causes based on vague to specific symptoms). This is key to note, because I found many people reviewing this app in the app store complaining that it doesn’t help you make a diagnosis. That is not the purpose of this app. It only helps you “start” the process of formulating a differential.  In this review we’ll discuss how to use this application.

  • Great for formulating differentials based on patients symptoms.
  • Search toolbar, which allows you to quickly search thousands of symptoms.
  • Loads in under 2 seconds, and does not require Internet connection. (Helpful when in parts of the hospital without wifi or reception)
  • Stable, have been using it since March without any issues.
  • Relatively cheap (99 cents)
  • New version has landscape mode
  • Hyperlinks within the app allow you to narrow down vague symptoms.
  • Compatible with iPhone and itouch

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Improvements that could be made:
  • Saving recent page. If you were looking up a differential and then close the app, when you return it starts you on the home page. It would be nice if it started you off on the last page you were viewing.
  • Have a search bar on the home page. I use the search bar almost 99% of the time, and I have to go through one of the categories to use it. Not a big issue but would save one step.
  • No registration. App asks for your name and email address to “register you” for tech support when you first install it. I put in random info, and don’t really see the point of the registration process.
  • Differentials can be a bit too broad at times, but this depends on your medical experience.

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Who this App would be great for:
  • Intern / nurse / medical student / PA student
  • This app is particularly useful if you’re on your Internal Medicine rotation or Peds rotation. Its great for coming up with a quick differential before you present your patients in the morning.

Overall, I’d definitely have to recommend this app to the above people. I’ve found it extremely useful in the wards, especially when I was on my internal medicine rotation. Even a seasoned attending might find this app useful for patients with atypical presentations. I’m honestly surprised this app is only rated 3/5 in the App store, but when I was reading the comments I saw alot of them were from people who were expecting an app for diagnosing, rather than for formulating a differential. For 99 cents its a great deal, and I don’t think you can go wrong with it.



Further Review:

I found the Access Medicine online version of Diagnosaurus helpful, but tedious to use, since there was no search function, and everything was more or less organized alphabetically. I’m glad they didn’t use the same approach when they converted this app for the iphone / itouch.

Gone are the alphabetical listings of symptoms, instead, replaced by a nice search toolbar that makes the process much quicker. The interface is simple and easy to use, although I don’t know the effectiveness of the different categories. Rarely, when I’m on the wards, do I find myself looking up particular diseases or organ systems. Those categories having huge listings within themselves, and are not very useful. The main utility in this App, and where it absolutely shines is in the symptoms category, and then using the search option from there. It does an excellent excellent job of giving a broad differential to work from. Some might argue the differential lists given can be too broad, this is true, and I feel this complaint is more of an issue of who is using this app and for what purpose. For a seasoned attending, the differential might be too much, but for an intern or med student, it might be perfect.

The other nice feature about this app is how it helps you narrow down your symptom. Lets say you want to look up the differential diagnosis for abdominal pain. When you do this, it gives you hyperlinks within the app that will narrow down your differential, such as, right upper quadrant abdominal pain verse left lower quadrant pain, and many others.

There is also a favorites bar. I didn’t use this option a great deal, but I could see how it might be useful to store some of the most popular symptoms and the differentials for them. Some of those being, abdominal pain, chest pain, headache, etc. (the pictures within this post are the ones provided in the app preview in the app store).