By: Brian Wells, MS-III, MPH, MSM
SurgAware is an app that is meant to be used as a tool by physicians and patients to increase the transparency of the decision making process before surgery. It provides a quick reference of general and specific risks for selected conditions with the goal of making the informed consent process more consistent and evidence based. While the goal is clearly laudable, the main drawback thus far is the limited numbers of procedures and specialties represented thus far.
Searches are performed either by entering the name of the procedure or by selecting a specialty and drilling down to the procedure of interest. Specialties included are as follows: General, General – Endocrine, Orthopedics, General – Miscellaneous, General – Hepatobiliary. Application data is a hybrid between local and remote storage thus the application needs an internet connection to be fully utilized.
What I liked about this app:
SurgAware provides a novel approach to patient care by providing an electronic record of known general and specific risks for the procedure. For the procedures that are available, SurgAware gives key points of the known risks and complications. Before showing the risks, the software prompts the user to confirm that the procedure selected is the correct procedure.
This is a nice touch to the program and helps ensure that the correct information is being transmitted. The clinician should keep in mind that the risks displayed may not be comprehensive. Nevertheless, the list can be copied and emailed out allowing the clinician to print the list or display it electronically for the patient’s benefit.
What I would like to see in future updates:
The main weakness of this app is its very limited specialty and procedure list. Also, if an internet connection is not present, the application will be unable to load the procedures and provide information. There are also some grammatical errors in parts of the application, such as the error messages.
Even on iOS devices with limited storage amounts, text data should be easy to accommodate and the need for server access impedes an otherwise well-conceived program. Another issue with the app is a limited number of procedures and specialties. Searching for a common procedure like “appendectomy” yielded no results, a definite surprise to this reviewer.
The developer has contacted us with clarifications to the app’s functionality. Specifically, the following specialties are also available in SurgAware but not noted in the original review: General – Breast, General – Hernia, General – Skin and Soft Tissue, Gynae Obstetrics, Maxillofacial, Paediatric Cardiac, ENT, Neurosurgery, Urology, Colorectal, Upper Gastro-Intestinal, Opthamology, Cardiac, Plastic Surgery, Anesthesia.
This software is available in Apple’s App Store (link) currently for $2.99.
Testing Platform: This application was tested on a 32 GB iPhone 4 running iOS 4.0.1. Data access was provided over 802.11n Wi-Fi on a 17 Mbps/1 Mbps connection with a 24 ms ping as measured by Speedtest.net (http://www.speedtest.net).
Editors note: this review originally had a star rating, but has since been removed. iMA will start offering star ratings of app reviews, but we are currently still analyzing our star rating system and will release star ratings only when we have a well defined rating system that is applicable to each application.