Mainstream publishers are finally starting to recognise the growing proportion of users who regularly use electronic versions of reference handbooks and textbooks on their mobile devices.
As such, there has been an impressive growth in the number of these books available in the App Store.
Elsevier has over 45 applications available and most of these are electronic versions of well known handbooks.
One such app, Emergency Medicine Secrets, is designed for medical students and emergency medicine practitioners to help identify, manage, and treat a wide variety of emergency medical issues.
This universal app contains two major components:
- A table of contents style reference handbook containing 19 major topics covering a wide variety of medical specialties.
- The top 100 high yield facts.
Picking a topic from the list leads to a number of subtopics. Clicking on one of these e.g. Airway Management, leads to a list of questions.
Clicking on one of these questions brings up a flashcard type interface where the answer to the question can be seen by tapping the question ‘card’.
There are also a number of other options such as the ability to bookmark the card for further study, mark as correct or incorrect and make notes associated with that particular question.
At any point whilst answering questions, it is possible to review the ‘Key Points’ which are high yield facts that cover the essential knowledge associated with each subtopic (in this case, Airway Management, a subtopic of Decision Making In Emergency Medicine).
This question and answer style of content is good for reinforcing concepts, however it can make it difficult to quickly find the information you are looking for.
This is especially noticeable when compared to other emergency medicine handbooks such as The Oxford Handbook Series.
However, this application is not designed to be actively used in the Emergency Room in the same way the Oxford Series is. Rather, this is designed to help cement the concepts and treatment algorithms encountered in emergency medicine. I noticed that there seemed to be a significant amount of wasted space in the design of the question slide.
As a result, the text was often very small and often required scrolling to see all the information. You can’t help but feel that this app could have an improved user interface (such as merging the topic bar with the black bar above it).
The Top 100 high yield facts are accessed using a tab at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on a fact displays a number of questions associated with that fact and these can be opened in the same flashcard style format as described above. The major difference is that the high yield fact is displayed on all the questions in bright orange. Again, there are key points which cover the selected topic on the whole.
Overall, I felt that the content was appropriate and the information useful. The main issue I faced was that of content delivery as it was consistently challenging to quickly find relevant information.
However, once found, the content was extremely concise and useful. The inbuilt search function functions effectively — although at times it did seem a little slow. The inbuilt question review tracking system is also useful and allows you to monitor your progress and revert back to challenging questions.
- Review section allowing you to monitor no of correct/incorrect answers
- Question and Answer style format of learning in order to consolidate existing knowledge
- Universal App
- Text is notably small given the space available
- Can be challenging to find relevant information quickly
- Expensive Cost
- Emergency Medicine Secrets is an app which many emergency medicine students and physicians may find particularly useful.
- However the excessively high cost places it out of reach for most of the potential user base.
- The range and level of content is good although accessing it quickly can be difficult at times.