Social Networks

The way physicians and other healthcare professionals communicate with each other is antiquated at best. We’re not just referring to the inability of a primary care physician to communicate in a simple, quick way with a specialist provider.  We also learn through journal-based unidirectional transmission of information, proximity-based peer groups, and periodic attendance at conferences.

Enter social networks. They provide the ability to communicate easily and in a dyssynchronous fashion with peers. They create forums that enable the sharing and, more importantly, debate of knowledge.

Doximity

Doximity is perhaps best described as a physician social network “plus.” It includes the defining feature of a social network – the ability for members to connect with each other on a one-to-one basis. Where it really has value though is in what has been layered on top of this.

First is a more comprehensive peer-to-peer communication toolkit that includes a comprehensive search function to help you find any physician you may want to communicate with as well as a free, HIPAA compliant e-fax tool integrated into the direct messaging feature. Second are communities of physicians, typically formed around shared interests, where discussion and debate about everything from the fairly unique financial challenges faced by many physicians, to the latest biologic to emerge from a promising clinical trial.

The exclusion from the network of other healthcare professionals (PA’s, NP’s, pharmacists) is one important limitation here. Another is the inability to link to the full-text journal articles on which many discussions are based. This missing functionality is now a more prominent deficit given the ability of other apps to provide it — such as Read by QxMD (mentioned earlier in this list).  The Read app even enables you to carry on social discussions about journal articles.

Overall, by combining its large and growing membership base with tools that users will find useful on a day-to-day basis, and well-designed forums for community formation and discussion, Doximity definitely has value to add to a physician’s app portfolio.

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Links:

iMA prior review: Doximity hits 160,000 users and releases native app for iPad 
iTunes: Doximity 

QuantiaMD

QuantiaMD is not a typical social network; it’s more like a community of physicians organized around the general aim of learning and improving their practice. While users can directly message other users outside of public forums, there is no “friending.” Instead, all interactions occur around topics in medical research, clinical care, policy, regulation, and so on.

The app itself is packed with features; at times it feels easy to get lost and disengage from the app. If you can invest the time to get acquainted with the layout and organization, there is a lot here. To incentivize that, QuantiaMD has a system of Q-points that basically rewards engagement with tangible rewards like Amazon gift cards.

In addition to open discussion forums around user-generated topics, there is also a wide selection of prepared content such as talks on best practices, new care guidelines, and more by experts in the field. With this structure, there are basically two ways to get value from the app; one is by actually engaging with the user community in discussions around the content and the other is just by using the talks, which are pretty well done, as a learning tool.

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Links:

iMA prior review: QuantiaMD allows busy physicians to access informative presentations on the go
iTunes: QuantiaMD

“Non-Medical” Apps critical for health care providers

Editors at iMedicalApps are often asked by our peers to recommend key medical apps. To the surprise of many, the “medical” apps we use the most aren’t in the medical category of the App Store. Out of the list of medical apps we recommend to our Doctor friends, the following three are usually the apps we hear the most positive feedback about.

Usually the thanks is conveyed in the following way, “I can’t believe I didn’t know about  the ____ app sooner”. In the blank, insert one of the following apps: Feedly, Dropbox, or Evernote.

Feedly

Feedly started to get a lot of buzz in the tech world with the demise of Google Reader. It’s been seen as a replacement to Reader now, but does so much more. The application presents website articles to you in an easy, and aesthetically pleasing manner.

Why does this matter?

With more medical professionals starting blogs and teaching online, there is a growing community of Physician writers who write great academic and teaching pearls. We highlighted how this was being done in Emergency Medicine, and other specialties are doing this as well.

As the accompanying video shows, you can set up Feedly to pull in all the key medical websites or medical blogs you follow, and they are presented in a palatable manner — all in one place.

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iTunes: Feedly

Evernote

Evernote is an application that is utilized extensively by the editors at iMedicalApps. It is a tremendous resource for storing PDF files, and more importantly — keeping track of all of your medical notes.  The accompanying video shows how great the app is at storing your notes. You can even add other Evernote users’ medical notes, as shown in the video.

One of the unique ways you can use Evernote is to take pictures of handouts.  This is great for Grand Rounds or for storing workflow algorithms — such as new Trauma protocols the hospital is implementing. Basically, Evernote prevents you from ever having to carry paper documents.

Recently, Evernote’s functionality increased tremendously when they added more comprehensive PDF reading ability.

Video:

Links:

iMA prior review: How medical professionals can use Evernote to improve productivity and learning
iTunes: Evernote

DropBox

While Evernote is the application you want to store your medical notes, Dropbox is the one you want to store your medical files. These range from your Grand Rounds presentations to medical literature PDF files. As with Evernote above, Dropbox recently upgraded their PDF viewing ability, so you don’t have to rely as much on other PDF reading apps.

Video:

Links:

iMA prior review: How to use Dropbox in medicine 
iTunes: Dropbox

The suggested usage of these “non-medical” apps is the following:

– Feedly for your medical websites and blogs
– Evernote for your medical notes, workflow algorithms
– Dropbox for your medical files (PDFs, powerpoints)

Now if only Evernote and Dropbox would include PDF annotation functionality — that would be a game changer.