By Jason Paluzzi, MS
Information is everything in the field of medicine. Often, it’s necessary to evaluate laboratory or prognostic data in ways that even the most up to date medical computer system cannot provide. Other times you may want to evaluate a patient’s prognosis quickly for point-of-care medical decisions or for speaking with family members. For these reasons, it’s useful to have a quality medical calculator on hand.
This is where Archimedes 360 comes in. While some calculators focus on a specific subset of medicine, Archimedes aims to be an all inclusive calculator, with well over 200 equations (In all honesty, I didn’t count, but I’ll take Skyscape’s word for it). These equations vary in scope from physiological principles (such as the A-a gradient) to prognostic values (ABCD2 stroke score) to pharmacology and population-epidemiology.
When opening the app, you’re greeted with your keyboard and the search field. This is great for finding what you need right away. The app has a very simple interface, with three ways to organize the calculators. In the Main Index, you get the complete listing of every equation in the app. They’re listed alphabetically, and the search bar at the top helps you jump to just what you need. With the large number of equations, and some variability in naming, this view isn’t the best for finding an equation when it’s needed. Rather, I would recommend it for browsing the list in your leisure time, to discover new tools that you might not have previously been aware of.
Next up is the Specialty Index. Here, equations are split into over 50 different categories, from specialties like Cardiology and Neurology to subsets like Alcohol and Students. This view is much more effective at locating the equation you need when you need it. A third view, Table of Contents, appears identical to the Specialty Index, except it doesn’t come with a search bar and has a folder structure rather than pop-up windows. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see the utility of having this third view.
After choosing an equation, you’re brought to a new screen that starts with various input fields and radio buttons for the equation’s variables. These are all very clearly delineated and easy to use, and the equation auto-completes once they’re all placed. The results are in a bold faced, slightly green font that allows easy recognition of the answers. But that’s not all you get. You also get a view of the equation written out, as well as a reference and additional information explaining the utility of the equation. You’ll also see a normal range of values where appropriate. These are all very strong additions that make this calculator much more useful.
Despite this simple interface, the app isn’t without its flaws. For one, there seems to be some oddly placed equations in the contents, such as indications for a chest x-ray in neurology. Other equations simply don’t have much utility, like calculating age from a patient’s date of birth. Because of this, it would be useful if users could move equations around within the Table of Contents. Even better would be the inclusion of a favorites menu, so students and providers could have all the equations they use regularly in one place.
The Archimedes 360 app is priced at $24.95. This includes free content updates for a year and continued use of the app after the free update period. You can also get a “1 year subscription” for $21.21, which includes free new editions of the app during the subscription period. As a medical calculator, I can’t recommend getting a subscription to this app. I don’t expect the math behind any of these equations to change significantly over the next year prompting a new release, and if an edition should come out that is a must-have, you can simply buy the app again, saving you from spending $21 dollars every year.
- Extremely extensive list of equations
- Opens into search bar
- Extensive subdivisions into specialties
- Additional information for each equation
Dislikes/Future Updates I’d Love to See:
- Pricing – the main competition on the Android platform, called Mediquation, costs $4.99
- Favorites menu
- Customizing the table of contents for improved efficiency
Archimedes 360 has a very simple to navigate interface and an extensive list of medical equations to satisfy every type of provider. It also has information to supplement its equations to add an educational experience to its use. It’s a little pricey, though, so if you’re on a budget it may help to look elsewhere. There is also a free version of the Archimedes calculator that comes with the free skyscape suite, which is the same app with less equations. It’s a good idea to see if the free version suits your needs first.
Jason Paluzzi is a third year medical student at Wake Forest University School of Medicine