Sluggishness plagues many medical mobile apps making accessing reference content difficult and cumbersome.

In fact, many “apps,” such as Skyscape’s numerous titles, are simply previously-published tomes wrapped in an app container.

AgileMD’s Android app makes accessing content simpler.

The AgileMD app eschews fancy splash screens, cumbersome tables of contents and indices.

AgileMD is fast & skimmable. It provides very quick, rapid access with a native Android user interface. In fact, launching the application takes under 1 second as opposed to, say, the 10 seconds required for other reference applications.

The content includes starter cards for assessing cardiac emergencies and electrolyte algorithms (e.g. what to do when evaluating hyponatremia, hypernatremia). Some of the content is hit-or-miss. Some content includes Pubmed links, while others, such as the hypocalcemia and hypokalemia cards, are missing references.

As a bonus, it includes emergency medicine algorithms written by Michelle Lin, MD, associate professor at UCSF. The written algorithms are based on her blog Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM). These cards include guides for pediatric, psychiatric, dental, and numerous other emergencies encountered in the emergency department. They also include references to boot.

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Users also have the option to purchase, for about $50, access to the UCSF Outpatient Medicine handbook.

Interestingly, some parts of the interface need further polish. The app forces the device to hide the operating system’s status bar on Android phones, meaning users can’t get alerts or check the time. The left-hand navigation drawer is also poorly designed – it takes up too much space without much benefit as far as app navigation goes.

Another weakness is that the search function doesn’t include a history. Their app, while functional on large-screen Android devices such as tablets, does not take advantage of wide screen space the way other Android tablet apps do. Furthermore, there’s no way to annotate information, highlight, or copy/paste. Checklists within algorithms can neither be saved nor tailored to track individual patients.

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Still, the most intriguing part of this is that the app appears to be positioning itself as a platform to let organizations deliver content and push it out quickly to their employees. Imagine an update to, say, the American Psychiatric Association guidelines for schizophrenia treatment, and having the update sent to psychiatrists’ phones instantaneously. Residency programs, clinic and hospital departments, and even medical societies can thus create their own cross-platform handbooks & references for their members to use. We will preview the authoring platform in a future article.

Price

  • Free, with starter content
  • Purchase required for add-on publications
  • Subscription required for authoring own content and other organization options

Likes

  • Native Android user interface that’s extremely fast and responsive.
  • Easier access to information
  • Most content includes PubMed references

Dislikes

  • User interface quirks get in the way of usability
  • Not completely clear (within the app) how to purchase a subscription or create your own content
  • No Android sharing functionality
  • No persistence of state–all checkboxes are unchecked
  • No annotations

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app

  • Emergency medicine physicians, PA’s, NP’s
  • Internal medicine physicians, PA’s, NP’s
  • Family medicine  physicians, PA’s, NP’s
  • Medical students

Patients that may benefit from app

  • None

Conclusion

  • AgileMD’s team has crafted a solid start for a clinical decision support tool that’s geared especially for mobile and web: they build content from the ground up instead of shoehorning existing textbooks into an application. The downside is that there’s not much content yet, nor is it clear (from either the app or the website) how one can create their own.
  • This is one app to watch in the future, though, and is worth downloading now at least for Dr. Lin’s emergency medicine cards.

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

Google Play Link
iTunes Link

Type of Device used to review app: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 SGH-T889
Version of app 2.9
Android version 4.1

Stars: 4 stars