Review of the ACC’s Guidelines app for iPhone, iPad, and Android

Guidelines issued by the American College of Cardiology, in conjunction with other organizations like the American Heart Association or various subspecialty societies, are incredibly influential and valuable resources. While many of these documents are freely available online, mobile access has been limited to apps like the ASCVD Risk Estimator for the 2014 ACC/AHA guidelines or storing the PDF in your preferred literature management tool.

A dedicated mobile app to increase the accessibility of these guidelines was long overdue, until the release this month of the ACC’s Guideline app. Developed by Borm Bruckmeir, whose Echocardiography Pocketcards app we recently reviewed, the app is described as a pilot with guidelines for cholesterol, risk assessment, and heart failure included.

On opening the app, we’re taken to the homescreen where we’re presented with a My Tools section for bookmarked content and then three main content areas – Cholesterol, CV Risk, and Heart Failure.

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Exploring Cholesterol, we get several subsections of content. The Executive Summary takes us to the grid view which we can also access by tapping the second icon on the bottom navigation bar. We can then, for example, review the recommendations on secondary prevention which are displayed in a well formatting flow diagram.

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Navigating the app gets unnecessarily complicated from here though. Tapping the arrow on the top right takes us to the next guideline set – CV Risk. The left and right arrows on the subtitle bar (“Secondary Prevention” here) navigate to the previous and next sections within the current guideline – Cholesterol. We also have arrows on the bottom navigation bar that basically function like back & forward browser buttons. Overall, I found the navigation of the app poorly designed.

The CV Risk and Heart Failure sections are similarly arranged. While the CV Risk and Cholesterol sections are based principally on a single guideline document, the Heart Failure section draws from multiple guidelines. For example, the guidelines on atrial fibrillation are drawn from the 2011 update by Fuster et al; it’s unclear to me (1) why this section is included here rather than as a separate section on atrial fibrillation and (2) why the 2014 ACC/AHA/HRS guidelines are not referenced here instead.

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There are several tools in the app worth calling out. First, there is a built in ASCVD risk calculator as well as interactive decision trees on topics like statin therapy or atrial fibrillation management. These can be bookmarked and then accessed from either the My Tools or the star button on the bottom navigation bar. The best way to use this app is to spend some time up front bookmarking the resources you may use more frequently; that way you can avoid fumbling around trying to use navigation tools that are far from intuitive.

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You can also make notes within the app’s content areas. There is also a search function that can be accessed from the home screen or the bottom navigation bar that seems to work pretty well. Finally we should note that in the Information section, you can get contact information to report issues to the ACC, provide feedback, and watch a demo video on how to use the app.

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  • Price
    • Free
    • Ability to bookmark and quickly access frequently used tools, like the ASCVD calculator
    • Well formatted decision trees and charts on a wide range of topics
  • Dislikes
    • App navigation and organization is unnecessarily complex
  • Overall

    The ACC Guideline app contains a lot of great information and is a welcome resource to make guidelines from the ACC more accessible. The organization and navigation of the app could be greatly improved. For now, using the bookmarking function to access topics relevant to your practice make this app a good one to add to your portfolio.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Navigating the app is unnecessarily complex

  • Multimedia Usage

    Flow charts and tables done well, some of the “interactive” tools seemed like overkill

  • Price

    Free

  • Real World Applicability

    Very useful information, great to have in mobile form

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 5S OS 7

  • Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad