Family Practice Notebook began as one Family Practice physician’s personal palmpilot notes. It has since developed over time into an online compendium recently transitioned into an iPhone and Android application. I have used the notebook multiple times online and actually emailed the creator, Dr Scott Moses, several years ago asking if he was thinking of a native phone app to facilitate referencing the information at point of care. Two months ago my wish came true with the publication of both Android and iOS versions of the Notebook.
The notebook and app are separated into 31 books which further break down into 717 chapters. The books range from urology and pediatrics to mental health and jokes. The chapters are broken down further with headings. It is a great format although at times all the clicking to go from book to chapter to heading can be cumbersome.
The Dermatology Book, for instance, has 35 chapters including Acne Vulgaris, Cardiovascular Medicine, Examination, General, and Obstetrics. The list of chapters is alphabetical which works well for searching but is sometimes counter-intuitive if you are not paying attention. For instance when I am looking up how to do an exam I have to scroll past acne and all the books with A, B, C, etc until I get to E for examination. This is a little hard to use in the clinical setting at bedside unless I remember that this is how the app is organized.
The chapter names can also be confusing until you spend a few moments. For instance, if I see a red splotch and think it might be an angioma and want to refresh prior to entering the room I first have to go to the Dermatology book and then the Cardiovascular Medicine chapter. This chapter includes angioma as well as telangiectasia, etc. Once I understood the logic behind the organization the app became quite easy to navigate and I often used the app outside of the rooms of patients to refresh various topics in my memory.
The headings within the chapter have the classic expandable sections of epidemiology, pathophysiology, etc. The actual paragraphs are short and often bullet points for quick reference and digestion.
One current pitfall of the application is when you click on a topic the content is condensed, and it takes another click to expand the content.
A major bonus of this app is its effective use of hyperlinks. There are 3-5 hyperlinks per heading which take you to related content.
A few other nice features include the “Breadcrumbs” section at the bottom of each heading which navigates you back to previous chapters, books, as well as the library. It also has a bookmarks section for the often used topics.