Purpose of App Review
How well does Cardiac Catheterization educate patients undergoing cardiac cath about the procedure?
An estimated 2.7 million cardiac cath procedures are done each year in the United States (1).
This common procedure is used to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease, heart failure, congential heart defects, and many other heart conditions.
Though this procedure is well tolerated by patients, the thought of having a catheter inserted into their heart can provoke anxiety for many. Without a strong understanding of cardiovascular anatomy, it is difficult to understand why the procedure is done and how it works.
Cardiac Catheterization by ArchieMD is a patient education app for those undergoing a cardiac cath procedure. The app uses detailed 3D animations to teach patients about the cardiovascular anatomy relevant to their procedure. Animations demonstrate how a cardiac cath procedure is done. Guided narrations provide counseling about preparing for and recovering from the procedure.
The app consists of pre-op and post-op interactive modules. Each module starts with a list of the topics that will be covered.
A guided narration leads the user through each module, starting with an explanation of basic cardiac anatomy. This come complete with 3D graphics and animations of a beating heart.
Interspersed throughout the modules are interactive activities. This activity asks users to trace the path of blood flow through the body:
After explaining relevant anatomy, the module moves on to an animation demonstrating how the cardiac catheterization procedure is done.
The module then explains both potential serious and common complications of the procedure.
The module briefly mentions alternative diagnostic modalities that may be used instead of or in conjunction with a heart cath.
Users can navigate through the module using a menu with Next and Previous options. The app does not allow for multitasking. If the user leaves the app or receives a phone call while using the app, it restarts back to the home screen.
I think this app does a phenomenal job of using a highly visual medium to teach patients about cardiovascular anatomy and about how a cardiac cath procedure is done. This isn’t an intuitive procedure, so visual animations are a great way to explain the important concepts behind it. Using interactive quizzes and activities helps keep users engaged with the material.
When compared to other patient education resources from Medline Plus (2) and the Mayo Clinic (3), I think that the visual approach and animations used here would improve patient learning. However, evidence on patient education doesn’t support the theory that multimedia materials are inherently better than print (4).
Though I think this app would be great for patients with medium to high healthy literacy, I’m concerned that the app may not be designed well for patients with lower health literacy (5). Experts recommend that all patient education materials be written at a 5th-6th grade reading level due to widespread low health literacy in America (6).
The narration is helpful for those with weak reading skills, but the language used is still more medical terminology than plain language. A study specifically comparing print and multimedia resources for patients undergoing cardiac catheterization found that most resources were unsuitable because they used too much technical language and functioned at a much higher reading level than recommended (7).
Some of the interactive activities like the one shown below are not relevant to most patients and may be confusing.
Despite those limitations, this app does seem like it could be a great patient education resource. I’d love to see data showing how well it works for real patients going through a cardiac cath.
- 3D animations teach basic cardiovascular anatomy well and help patients visualize the procedure.
- Covers relevant patient centered learning objectives.
- No multitasking. Difficult to re-start the presentation where you left off.
- Too much medical terminology for a patient centered activity.
Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app
- Cardiologists, Internists, and Family Medicine providers recommending cardiac catheterization to their patients.
Patients that may benefit from app
- Those planning to undergo a cardiac cath procedure.
- This app does a phenomenal job of using graphic animations to demonstrate a common medical procedure.
- More evidence is required to show how well it works for typical patients.
- User Interface – 3 – No multitasking, annoying try to re-start where you left off.
- Multimedia usage – 5 – Excellent.
- Price – 5 – Reasonable at $3.99.
- Real world applicability – 4 – Potentially useful for patients, but may not be at the appropriate level for average health literacy.
- Katie Charles. “Daily Checkup: An early look using cardiac catheterization can reveal your risk of heart disease” New York Daily News. Link
- “Cardiac Catheterization” Medline Plus. Link
- “Cardiac Catheterization” Mayo Clinic. Link
- Wilson EA, Makoul G, Bojarski EA, Bailey SC, Waite KR, Rapp DN, Baker DW, Wolf MS. Comparative analysis of print and multimedia health materials: a review of the literature. Patient Educ Couns. 2012 Oct;89(1):7-14. PMID: 22770949 Link
- “Health Literacy” National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Link
- Cotugna N, Vickery CE, Carpenter-Haefele KM. Evaluation of literacy level of patient education pages in health-related journals. J Community Health. 2005 Jun;30(3):213-9. PMID: 15847246 Link
- Smith PT, Cason CL. Suitability of patient education materials for cardiac catheterization. Clin Nurse Spec. 1998 Jul;12(4):140-4. PMID: 9987217 Link
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.