The Medical Dictionary app for the Android is easy to use and simple to search. It can be a useful source of reference for students and clinicians alike, but should be taken with a grain of salt. The developer of the app seems to have a grasp of medical terminology as this resource is pretty comprehensive.

However, it’s unclear where the developer is pulling his information from.

Usability:

Searching is easy, yet advanced in that as you type, a suggested list of options appears below the search box. This gives the app a very Google-like feel which most searchers (whether novice or expert) are familiar with by now. The search box also contains an X for quickly deleting an entire phrase instead of having to backspace each letter to begin a new search.

Scrolling is easy but could be enhanced by including the alphabet on the left hand side of the screen to allow for ready skipping from one letter to another. As it is now, Medical Dictionary does not accommodate users that are looking to browse for a medical term as opposed to searching for a specific item.

Aesthetics:

The look of the Medical Dictionary app is one of simplicity and intuitiveness. It is apparent how to search the app and what to do when you are on a given screen.

For example, linking between definitions is easy to see due to the way the information is laid out. Synonyms of terms are hyperlinked, similarly to what you would find in an online (desktop) dictionary.

Authority:

The app developer has designed a few other medical apps for the Android OS, but there is no reason to believe he is an expert in any medical field. A user downloading the Medical Dictionary app may not take the time to research the developers credentials, therefore, it is important that the transparency of information is made available by the developer.

In the ABOUT section of this app, we are informed that Hadi Yazdi is the copyright owner (and developer) and that the definitions found in the resource are retrieved from several free online medical websites. Kudos for Hadi Yazdi for letting us know how he gets the information for the app, but where specifically does he compile the information from? One should be cautious of this lack of information and realize that perhaps some definitions in the app may not be 100% accurate.

Stability/Updates:

The developer regularly updates the Medical Dictionary app and informs users by updating the ABOUT section with the latest version. The app website in the Google Play store has a note about the most recent update to the app:

Avoid downloading the app from the market when your external storage is NOT mounted, otherwise the Play Store will not be able to download the data into your external storage directory

This update may be more useful for some than others. I wonder, though, if existing app users were notified of this with the newest upgrade. I have no way of knowing since I downloaded the app after the most recent update took place.

Relevance:

The Medical Dictionary app is most relevant to health professionals that may use it as a refresher resource. Meaning, they already have the pre-existing medical knowledge to realize when a definition may be inaccurate, or they need a quick definition of a condition or process that may have temporarily slipped their mind. Medical students may also find this app helpful as a starting point for learning about a topic or a springboard to something more reputable.

Quality of Content:

The quality of information found in this app seems (to me) to be accurate. Although it is possible that inaccuracies exist in the more than 100,000 entries in the resource since it is unclear where exactly the developer is getting the definitions and related information from.

Disclosing the list of websites/databases where the information is being pulled would make it easier for one to better assess the quality of the content found in the app.

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • Extremely easy to use and search
  • Linking between records using synonyms is seamless and effective
  • App updated regularly
  • Transparency of app developer

Dislikes:

  • Authority of the app is unclear (precise providers of medical definitions and information lacking)
  • Possibility for inaccuracies in information
  • Had problems with initial download, needed to connect to Wi-Fi instead of using cellular data network

Conclusions:

  • A comprehensive medical dictionary for quick access to scope of a topic
  • Unclear where the definitions are coming from specifically
  • Easy to navigate for all levels (from newbie searcher to expert discovery skills)
  • Can find alternate forms of representing a medical term by looking for the synonyms of individual items

Google Play Link