Review of CardioSmart Explorer for iPad & Android

The widespread prevalence of cardiac disease means that many clinicians across a range of specialties will find themselves regularly discussing everything from the causes of atherosclerosis to the rationale for anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation. The challenge is going beyond just informing your patient about their disease and actually helping them understand it.

The CardioSmart Explorer app is a tool for augmenting discussions with patients about cardiovascular disease, available for free to members of the American College of Cardiology ($3.99 for non-members). The app offers a range of animated heart models, interactive animations, and longer videos to help patients visualize the processes you’re explaining.

The app makes exceptional use of the tablet platform, opening to different views depending on whether you’re in portrait or landscape mode. Starting in portrait, we’re presented with a really well done 3D animated heart model. By swiping up or down in the upper right corner of the app, we can scroll through different layers of anatomy including isolated views of the coronary arteries and conduction system. This function could be a nice tool when trying to explain the location of a myocardial infarction, what a bundle branch block is, and more.

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Turning to landscape mode, the screen divides into a menu and a smaller animated heart model. We can select from several options of how to view the heart in cross section to show the right or left sided circulation, mitral valve prolapse, a myocardial infarction, and more.

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There is also a Media Gallery menu at the top right that presents us with several other options. The interactive drawings and animations were particularly well done here. For example, Occlusion Interactive is an image of a heart that you can draw on. This includes a sharing function via email; note that the email comes from whatever email account is registered on your device. This section is clearly designed to describe an MI and intervention, whether PCI or surgery.

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Another cool interactive section is stenting interactive where we use touch gestures to bring the balloon into the stenosis, pre-dilate, withdraw the balloon, and so on. Its really well designed to complement a real world discussion that goes at your own pace, rather than trying to keep up with a video going at a preset speed.

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Finally, there are several other animations of varying lengths, from seconds to minutes, showing everything from the function of CRT to a quivering ventricle with disorganized electrical activity in VF. These are all non-narrated videos, which was an odd choice for the longer videos that include captions in some cases. For example, the video on atrial fibrillation (AF) lasts well over a minute and periodically has text popping up describing complications from AF.

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For the short animations, generally a few seconds or slightly longer, they could still be useful as visual aids in a discussion I’m having with a patient. The long videos seem to invite a lot of pausing and scanning to keep pace with the conversation, an unecessary distraction. Narrated videos that patients could view on their own, perhaps as follow up to a conversation with their physician, would be more useful in the case of the longer videos.

One limitation we should note is that with the exception of the Occlusion Interactive drawing tool, none of the other content can be annotated or shared with the patient.

  • Price
    • Free for ACC members, $3.99 otherwise
    • Exceptional animated heart with layers clearly designed with common diagnoses and patient discussions in mind
    • Interactive animations are really well designed for discussing atherosclerotic disease
    • Short animations for atrial fibrillation, progressive atherosclerosis in particular are excellent
  • Dislikes
    • Longer videos are awkward to use during a patient discussion, would do better with either interactive options or narration for patients to view separately
    • Organization in landscape mode with two menus does not feel intuitive
    • Very limited sharing capabilities
  • Overall

    CardioSmart Explorer from the American College of Cardiology is an excellent resource for discussing cardiac disease with your patients. In addition to great tools for atherosclerotic disease, the app also stands out on tools for arrhythmia discussions.

     

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Excellent in portrait mode in particular. Menu organization in landscape could be better.

  • Multimedia Usage

    Beautifully done heart model in portrait. Interactive animations and short videos are another strength.

  • Price

    Reasonably priced for the tools available, free for ACC members

  • Real World Applicability
  • Device Used For Review

    iPad Air

  • Available for DownloadiPad