By Saif Usman MD
App Review of JS SportsECG app for iPhone and Android
The ECG is a common and versatile diagnostic tool that is used in everyday medicine by many different types of physicians. However, true mastery of ECG interpretation can be elusive and usually takes a strong foundation and years of practice.
Athletes often have to undergo a screening physical exam before they can participate in sports, and a part of this exam can include a screening ECG. The reasons for this are the horrific cases of young athletes who die suddenly while playing sports — often attributed to conditions that sometimes can be caught on an ECG.
With this in mind, the SportsEcg app was developed by the team at Jorestha Solutions based on recently published research for ECG interpretation in athletes: the ‘Seattle criteria‘. One of the app’s developers is an author of the Seattle criteria paper, which adds additional legitimacy to the app information.
We’ll start with a common patient scenario for this app: you have a 14 year old male athlete who presents for his yearly pre-participation physical exam (a standard yearly requirement for all high school athletes). A screening ECG is performed by the provider. From this point on, the app is supposed to help you pick up any signs that further workup is needed.
Clicking on the app the first time brings you to an introduction screen.
This is also a user agreement and when you touch the top left corner it prompts you to accept or decline the terms.
Oddly enough, although the app is in English, some parts, including this introduction screen are titled in German. After choosing ‘accept’ you are brought to the main menu screen and this is where the app opens from now on.
Touching the icon in the top left corner gives you the option to send feedback to the developers or share via email.
Touching the ‘restore’ icon on the top right will restore any previous in-app purchases you have made.
Choosing the introduction tab brings you back to the introduction screen you saw the first time the app opened. Choosing the Seattle criteria summary brings you to the research the app is based on. This research was published in the prestigious American College of Sports Medicine journal and the British Journal of Sports Medicine. One of this app’s developers is an author of the Seattle criteria paper, which adds additional legitimacy to the app information.
The app comes with 4 free sample ECGs and beyond that you can buy bundles of 20 additional ECGs at $2.99 per bundle on iOS and $3.48 per bundle on Android.
Choosing the free option brings you to a series of 4 ECGs where you are asked to choose the green thumbs up for normal or the red thumbs down for abnormal.
If you get it right, the ECG indicates the correct answer and an explanation appears at the bottom of the screen.
If you get it wrong, again it’s indicated and you can review the explanation.
On the ECG screen, if you want to review the Seattle criteria at any time, just choose the icon at the top right corner and a small, scrollable window appears.
After completing the series of ECGs, you get a results page.
The results page was a little confusing as it said I correctly identified 2/2 acceptable ECGs and ½ possible problem ECGs. In reality all I did was choose thumbs up or down. The page could simply state I got 75% or 3/4 correct and that’s all that’s needed.
Evidence and literature used to support the app
The app is developed based on the Seattle criteria which is published in the prestigious British Journal of Sports Medicine and can be viewed at this link. One of the app’s developers is an author of the Seattle criteria paper which adds additional legitimacy to the app information.
- Free to download, but has various in-app purchases.
- Very easy to use
- Clear font
- Evidence based
- Very basic with no use of the visual capabilities of the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Note 3
- Often the app feels like PDF pages contained within an app, very disappointing as the point of making an app is not to regurgitate a PDF format
- German titles on certain screens
- ECGs don’t clearly point out/annotate relevant findings — again, the point of making an app is to create functionality that would do this.
There was a great deal of hope for this app as it definitely addresses a need. ECGs that are done for young adolescents, and athletes in general, have specific findings that need to be addressed and are not related to the ischemic etiology that is often learned in medical school and in training. Further, the app actually did include relevant literature — something most apps fail to do, and making it even harder to take in the failures of the app. The only redeeming quality is the evidence base behind the app. If this app wants to be taken seriously, it needs to actually utilize the mobile experience by containing annotations, a new user interface, and not to regurgitate PDF files.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
- Multimedia Usage
- Real World Applicability
- Device Used For Review
iPad mini with retina display and Samsung Galaxy Note 3
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad