We’ve recently reviewed a number of apps for echocardiography including tools for learning the basics and calculators that assist with interpretation. We’ve looked at Epocrates’ Echocardiography Atlas, ASE Pocket Guidelines, Cardio3, EchoSource, Echolab, and iASE.
Continuing our dive into this specialized imaging modality, we next took a look EchoCalc from the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE).
We’re increasingly seeing professional societies publishing apps with a variety of functionality. For example, the American Society of Echocardiography similarly has several apps intended, principally, to disseminate guidelines and appropriate use criteria.
Overall, EchoCalc is a good example of how “over-designing” can keep an app from accomplishing its end goal.
After a brief introductory screen, we’re taken to the main screen where we are presented with a variety of topics organized into three sections – Chambers, Valves, and Vessels.
Each screen has three completely separate navigation paths – buttons for gender, a scroll bar to select different topics within a section, and a bottom navigation bar to choose from different types of information. This structure feels quite tedious and unnecessarily complex.
Central to each section is the scroll bar which let us select various topics on which we’d like more information. For example, in the LV size, mass, & function section, we can select choices like LV dimension, LV Function: Ejection Fraction, and more. For each choice, we use the bottom navigation bar to choose whether we want Data (e.g. reference values), a Calculation, and Graphics.
The Data area generally contains pertinent reference values for whatever section/topic we are within. The Calculation and Graphics section are self explanatory, providing any related calculators and graphics to the section/topic.
We should note though that many sections/topics do not have anything in the Calculation and Graphics.
Back on the home screen, there is information provided on authorship as well as a mechanism to contact the developers.
Platform: iPhone. We should note that the app is available on Android as well and based on screenshots may in fact have a more streamlined design.
- Intended functionality is quite practical, providing relevant calculators and reference values
- Reliable source with clearly identified authorship
- Tedious and confusing design that makes it feel like a chore to use the app
- Diagrams are overly simplistic
- No search function
Conclusion: Given the organization behind the app, we had high hopes. Unfortunately, a confusing structure and design limits its efficacy by falling short on the overall usability and form factor.