By: Manoj M. Lalu, MD, PhD
Anesthesia is one of the “behind-the-scenes” medical specialties that is often overlooked by the public. That is until a person has to undergo an anesthestic for a medical procedure or surgery.
When I work in the Preoperative Unit, it is not uncommon for me to field questions from patients whose understanding of anesthesia has been influenced by the Hollywood movie “Awake”, or the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy” (where the anaesthesiologist is usually off-camera). Thus, a large void exists in terms of patient understanding of anesthesia.
MyAnaesthetic attempts to fill the void with “clear jargon free explanations” of anesthesia techniques. It was developed by UK anaesthesiologists who wanted to improve patient knowledge after they apparently found a lack of clear information on the internet.
After selecting the app, a legal disclaimer is displayed and then it opens to a Table of Contents. The appearance of the app is rather basic, and the content covers broad categories. After choosing a category, I noticed much of the text was poorly formatted.
Moreover, I felt there was simply too much writing without any tangible figures in most sections — writing that could be difficult for some patients to decrypt.
In sections where figures were present, the photographs were generally of low quality and difficult to decipher. In some figures I (as an anesthesia resident) had difficulty making out what was pictured.
Picture of airway equipment that could be difficult for patients to understand.
Picture used to describe neuraxial techniques.
Additionally, for ease of reading, the app does allow enlarged text. Although the app is compatible with the iPad, it is not optimized and thus the user is left reading from a mini-screen.
Another feature within the app is advanced keyword searching. This allows the user to search for any technique that they could not readily find in the Table of Contents.
Advanced search for the keyword “epidural”.
My biggest concern with this app is the price associated with it. Although 69 pence/99 cents is not very much money, all the information within the app can be found freely on the world wide web. Both the American Society for Anesthesiology and the Royal College of Anaesthetists have excellent patient information websites. The Royal College of Anaesthetists even has a series of patient print-outs that clearly explain different aspects of anesthesia.
- Tries to educate patients about anesthesia.
- Charges patients for information that is freely available.
- Pictures and text could be difficult for patients to decipher.
- If you are a patient looking for more information about anesthesia please ask your anaesthesiologist or
- visit the excellent websites of the American Society for Anesthesiology or Royal College of Anaesthetists