by: Matthew DiPaola, MD

Dr. DiPaola is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder and elbow disease. We appreciated his contribution to iMedicalApps.

The Shoulderdoc app is the accompanying app to Shoulderdoc. This website is every shoulder surgeon’s guilty pleasure. It contains more information on shoulder surgery and treatments than one can find in one place on the web.

Shoulderdoc is the brainchild of Dr. Leonard Funk, a specialist shoulder surgeon in the UK. Dr. Funk has spent the last decade feeding his main website with a plethora of useful shoulder related content. I like the concept of having a “go to” shoulder site where I can quickly find all of the latest feeds of articles, patient education topics and latest trends. I’ve always found the site to be updated frequently, the content to be good and referenced well. I do have a few hang-ups about the site, though.

The site has a ton of information but it’s a bit crowded, full of ads and sometimes hard to navigate. Also, some of the menu text is in orange print which is difficult to read. So is the app just a mini shoulderdoc website? The answer is no.

The layout of the mobile app is smooth and easy to read – light orange and white backgrounds with black lettering for the most part. Unlike the main website, the app’s main audience is patients. Put simply, the app condenses a host of patient education materials found on the main website in a manner that makes it quick easy to access. If you are a surgeon, you may be a bit bored with the app.

You won’t find the latest RSS feeds from the main shoulder and sports medicine journals or detailed classification systems in the app. These are things that I like about the main site. But then again, I am (usually) not a patient.

I trialed the app on the iOS platform – iPad and iPhone. The bottom menu contains 5 categories “topics, diagnose, your surgery, videos and a brief about us” page. The “Topics” tab at the bottom left is a repository of about 30 different shoulder conditions.

Topics shoulder_alt

Topics range from rotator cuff tear, biceps problems, and calcific tendonitis, to injections, labral tears and nerve disorders. You will typically encounter a second menu of more specific categories of the main topic after you click on one from the main menu.

For example, when you click on AC Joint Problems you encounter a submenu of: AC joint, AC Joint Osteolysis, ACJ Arthritis and ACJ Dislocations. Clicking on one of these subheadings will then take you to a nicely laid out summary of the problem usually accompanied by a drawing to help illustrate the condition. Within the sub-menus there are usually some treatment options. So patients have a quick reference for not only the problem but some common treatments. The content seems appropriate and would likely be helpful for most patients.

diagnose shoulder_alt

The “Diagnose” tab comes up next. It links to an interesting tool that takes you through a series of questions and helps you develop a preliminary “diagnosis” of your shoulder problem. The patient completes the algorithm and is given a brief link to information about their likely problem at the end.

The disclaimer shows that this is a “rough guide” to help you find more information about your shoulder. You need a full medical exam to get an exact diagnosis.

your surgery shoulder_alt

The “Your Surgery” section answers many common questions about what one’s surgery will be like. Certainly, some of the items are tailored more toward Dr. Funk’s personal practice so it may not be completely applicable to every shoulder surgeon’s practice, but there is a lot of good general information.

At the very least, a shoulder surgeon might do well to use some of Dr. Funk’s information as a general outline to help guide patients through their experience.

“Print Booklets” took me to the “Shoulder Store” on the main web site where there were books and slings for sale (all in British Pounds). I was expecting a link to printable information packets for patients. Dr. Funk has put together a 44 pg booklet for 7.99 that covers “everything you need to know” about the process of undergoing shoulder surgery.

I have not read his book so I do not know how much of that same information is in the app. But since it looks like a lot of information is in and you can get it for free, it’s to your advantage to go digital.

animations_altThe “Videos” tab take you to 2 categories labeled “shoulder animations” and “”surgery animations.” There were a series of videos in the “shoulder animations” section. The shoulder arthritis video did not play, but others did. They were about 3-5 minutes each and consisted of Dr. Funk standing in a lecture format guiding users through a series of animations on various problems.

The surgery animations were cartoonish videos that nicely illustrated some common procedures. They were easy to understand, well annotated and would likely not turn off the squeamish who may not like real videos with blood.

The “about us” tab states that all content is written by medical professionals and reviewed by Dr. Funk (and tells one how to get in touch with their clinic for a consultation).

Likes:

  • Layout was simple and standardized. When you navigated through the links you knew what to expect
  • Videos were concise
  • Information seemed pertinent and comprehensive

Dislikes:

  • Perhaps as time goes on and these app reviews get more plentiful, we’ll see small labels come up next to the app stating the appropriate audience. This app is geared more toward patients than any other audience.

Find the app on iTunes