Purpose of App Review

  • How useful is the PEER VIII iPad app as an Emergency Medicine Board Review tool?

Introduction

The Physician’s Evaluation and Educations Review in Emergency Medicine, or PEER for short, started in 1974 as a board review resource for the American Board of Emergency Medicine examination.

The editorial board boasts 15 board certified EM physicians with numerous other physician contributors. PEER VIII practice questions are available in the original print form or on a digital platform for iPad and iPhone.

User Interface

Users start with a 60 question pretest. Answers to these questions are not immediately shown, but can be reviewed after completing the test. There are no explanations provided for these questions.

Pretest

Next, users move on to the study and practice by category section, where questions are divided by subject area. The amount of questions per subject is meant to reflect the breakdown of topics on the ABEM exam. Some, like Cutaneous Disorders, are short with 9 questions, while the Emergent section contains 199 questions.

Menu

Users must do the questions in each section in order. Users cannot go back to review the previous question or move forward without answering each one.

Question1

Question2After submitting each question, the correct and incorrect answers are displayed with references and explanation below. The percentage of users that chose each answer is displayed when connected to the internet.

Explanation

The Where’s that question about… section gives an alphabetical list of specific topics and links to the questions about them.

Wheres that question

Users can also search the question bank for specific topics. The post­test contains all 450 questions at random. An explanation for each is shown after the user submits their answer. All questions in PEER VIII are new. The authors also included the 400 questions from PEER VII in this updated edition, and though the answers are shown, explanations are not included. The iPhone version of this app costs much less (currently $39.99) and contains all the questions, but with abbreviated explanations.

I recently reviewed several other Emergency Medicine board review apps. I liked Practice Exams in EM, and was underwhelmed by EM IQ and EM Board Review. I was really looking forward to reviewing this app since PEER is such a well regarded board review resource. I already use the print edition and find the questions very helpful.

As expected, the questions are excellent with thorough, well cited explanations with strong references and interesting image prompts. Helpful features allow users to review their test scores by category to identify weak topics. Data on how other users answered show which questions are more difficult.

As a medical app, however, PEER VIII leaves much to be desired. Though the developers advertise this as a “native app” requiring no internet connect for use, I found that I first needed to open up each study and practice category while online so that I could access the questions offline later. Users cannot annotate questions with highlights or notes, and cannot bookmark specific questions to review later. They must review questions in each category in the order given, and cannot flip around the category sections to review past questions or move forward without answering.

Though I much prefer using the iPad edition, I do want to preserve the ability to annotate, bookmark and review questions like I would in a book.

Price

  • $299 ($199 for ACEP members)

Likes

  • Large number of challenging questions with helpful explanations and strong references
  • Inclusion of multimedia based questions
  • Breakdown of scores by category

Dislikes

  • Cannot annotate or bookmark questions
  • Bugs when accessing offline ­ must first download each category individually
  • Expensive
  • Separate iPhone and iPad apps
  • Ideal for buying the cheaper iPhone app alone, but iPad buyers should have access to both

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app

  • Emergency Physicians preparing for board exams

Conclusions

  • PEER VIII is a leader in EM board review, and the fantastic questions in the latest edition back up that reputation.
  • As an app, this digital edition has significant room to grow, and should improve offline capabilities and add annotation options like bookmarks and highlighting.
  • Users who purchase this expensive app should also have automatic access to the separate iPhone version.
  • This app is currently not available on the Android platform.

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

PEER VIII for iPad iTunes Link
PEER VIII Mini for iPhone iTunes Link

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

  • User Interface -­ 3 -­ Easy to navigate, but not as “native” as advertised. No annotation options.
  • Multimedia usage -­ 4 -­ Strong multimedia based questions.
  • Price ­– 1 -­ $299 is expensive, especially while requiring that iPad users buy the iPhone version separately.
  • Real world applicability -­ 4 -­ Helpful for board review, but limited features and offline capabilities. Buyers would ideally have access to iPad and iPhone versions with their purchase for better mobile access.

Type of Device used to review app: iPad 2 with iOS 6.0.1 Version of App: 1.1

Disclaimer:
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.