The ECG Guide is probably considered QxMD Medical Software’s flagship app, having a very respectable 4-star App Store user review rating. It is also considered to be one of the best ECG apps for the iPhone, so I was particularly excited to dig right into this app to see what it is made of for this review.

The timing of this review happens to be good for those of you considering buying it. Normally the price of the app is $6.99, but it’s currently on sale for only $0.99. At the regular price I might be reluctant to recommend everyone should buy it (see the “Who this app would be good for” section below), but at only $0.99 it’s hard to come up with reasons against purchasing it. [editor note: the price has increased to the original $5.99 as of October 16th]

What I liked about this application:
  • This app is beautifully designed.
  • The content is organized into sections and sub-sections and includes both a sequential link to the next section and hyperlinks to non-adjacent sections where appropriate.
  • Diagrams and tables are used in most of the 90+ pages of content.
  • Both portrait and landscape modes are available on all pages and pinch open zoom is also standard.
  • The content included is extremely comprehensive and conducive for learning and understanding ECGs; it is basically a short text on ECG theory and analysis.
What I did not like about this application:
  • The app is a bit text heavy; if you like to sit and ready a lot on your iPhone, this app will be fine for you, but if you prefer access to quick and simple information you might find it a bit frustrating.
  • The usefulness of this app is mostly limited to learning about ECGs or as a reference; it is not particularly helpful at the bedside when trying to analyze an ECG.
  • Although the quiz feature is a good idea, it needs some work to be more effective.

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What I would like to see in future updates:
  • In the content pages, I’d like to see examples of how to calculate things, e.g. axis deviation or heart rate. When it comes to the actual ECG traces, I think annotating them to show where the deviations from normal are would be highly beneficial.
  • Finding something specific you are looking for is more time consuming than it probably should be. The area titled “Samples” is an alphabetical index of topics (that probably should be named differently), but I’d also like to see a general “Search” function in this app.
  • The quiz feature should be more comprehensive: it should include questions rather than just ECG traces and should also provide explanations for the answers to facilitate better learning and understanding.
  • I’m not sure how to accomplish this, but making the ECG Guide more useful at the bedside would really set this app apart from the rest.
Who this app would be good for:
  • This app would be great for any student learning the basics of the ECG. I don’t think it can replace your standard text on ECGs, and definitely not instructor lead teaching, but it can definitely supplement your learning.
  • As a reference, it’s good for any healthcare professional who needs to refresh their understanding of ECGs periodically. I would think (hope?) that this app is too elementary for cardiologists or even cardiology residents.

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Overall, this is a very good app, is designed well and is comprehensive in terms of content. I wouldn’t go as far as saying The ECG Guide is a necessary app for everyone to have on their iPhone, but I do think it’s a good one as a reference, particularly for those who have frequent enough exposure to ECGs without being at the expert level of understanding or analyzing them (i.e. a general internist, cardiologist, cardiac surgeon, etc.).