Recently, we reviewed six medical apps for the iPhone and iPad that promised mobile PubMed searches — an essential functionality since the PubMed.gov website is extremely difficult to view on a smart phone. As of last week, this is no longer the case. The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) just launched a mobile friendly version of PubMed.gov last week.

The Web App they have created is currently in beta, and as of this publish date, if you go to PubMed.gov on your smart phone’s browser you will still be directed to the original non-mobile friendly website. However, if you point your phone’s browser to the following URL, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/, you are presented with the mobile version of the site.

The National Library of Medicine states the significant increase in mobile browsing for medical content is one of the key reasons they released this mobile web app. The folks at the NLM already have a plethora of mobile medical web apps available, such as the recently added MedLine Plus.

Continue on to see pictures of the PubMed app in action.

Features of the PubMed Mobile WebApp:

* Ability to do basic searches in PubMed. In this review, we have used the following keywords: (EHR) AND (meaningful use)

* Ability to view “Free Articles” only. This is useful if you are not logged into your academic library’s proxy connection, or if you do not have a subscription to groups of medical journals.

* In this review we show how easy it is to narrow results to “Free Articles”, and subsequently open the PDF document you are interested in on your mobile device. In this case, the iPhone.

* Since this is a Web App, it’s not device specific. You can use this Web App in the various browsers available on your smart phones: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7.

* Currently, you have to direct your browser to the mobile site — this does not happen automatically. This will most likely change once the Web App is no longer considered Beta. In the meantime, we suggest users bookmark the mobile URL in their smart phone browsers.

The biggest downside to this app is the inability to add limits, something the full browsing experience offers, and essential when doing comprehensive literature searches. One could argue comprehensive literature searches should be reserved to the desktop experience, and the mobile experience should be reserved for quick, evidence based research at the point of care. We would argue the ability to add basic limits, such as parameters for the publish dates, would significantly increase the utility of the web app.

Conclusion:

The National Library of Medicine’s statement on why they are transitioning their medical content to mobile form reinforces the notion that health care professionals continue to shift their consumption of medical content to mobile form. We applaud the NLM for being proactive, and recognizing this trend.

Overall, we are huge fans of the PubMed Mobile Web App. We would like to see the addition of rudimentary “limits” made available on the full desktop experience, but otherwise feel the app is a capable substitute for the PubMed specific medical apps in various App Stores on mobiles devices.

Link to PubMed Mobile Beta website: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/