During medical school and residency, I remember carrying my “peripheral brain” in my white coat. At that time, my go to pocket books were the Washington Manual and the Ferri’s Guide. Both of these still live on today in mobile versions. However, on my iPhone, I still tend to stick with UpToDate or Dynamed first line. See my article on “Alternatives to UpToDate“. But what about apps for quick reference internal medicine pearls and differential diagnoses? Many of my former residents still carry around the Massachusetts General Hospital Pocket Medicine by Marc Sabatine. This venerable guide is still available in its 5th Edition and is also available as an app, though in our review we noted it didn’t translate as well as we would have liked.

Another alternative pocket book is the Black Book. Created from her own “peripheral brain” during medical school, residency and during her career by Dr Francoise Marvel, the Black Book has been used by countless students and residents. The Black Book is now available as an app via a joint project between Dr Marvel and Dr Mario Madruga, the Program Director of an Internal Medicine residency program in Orlando, FL. Let’s take a look at the iPhone version of this pocket book.

Clinical Scenario:

You are taking your first call as an internal medicine resident. The floor nurse calls you to tell you that Mr Jones who was admitted for a congestive heart failure exacerbation is complaining of chest pain. She states his telemetry is not showing sinus rhythm and his most recent chemistry shows hypokalemia at 2.5. She asks you what you want to do about Mr Jones?

Login to iMedicalApps in order to view the below video review of the M3 Black Book. Registration for iMedicalApps is free.  Once logged in, click the below screen shot of the video to play.

Evidence based medicine

The app is written by two highly respected internists, but seems to be mostly expert opinion and experience of practice. There are no evidence ratings given for any of the medical pearls included or any references for most of the app’s content.

What providers would benefit from this App?

Students, residents, mid-levels, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and subspecialist providers. Most likely for those just beginning their medical careers as it is too basic for more seasoned providers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

    • Numerous useful pearls, differential diagnoses lists and MNEMONICS.
    • Simple user interface.
    • Ability to bookmark your favorite pearls, lists, etc..
  • Dislikes
    • No real specifics on conditions such as diagnostic workup or treatments.
    • Table of contents and navigation within the app could be more useful and efficient.
    • Distracting animation on home screen.
    • Not available for Android.
  • Overall

    A basic app of internal medicine pearls, differential diagnosis lists and MNEMONICS.  The M3 Black Book is a reasonably price app that could help students and residents by combining several apps into one.  However, the app is greatly limited in its scope beyond these basic functions such that beginners may be better served with either more robust pocket book or a comprehensive medical reference app.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    A bit too simplistic and heavy on black colors throughout.

  • Multimedia Usage

    Other than the ability to bookmark your favorites, the app does not contain any other significant multi-media functions.

  • Price

    App is reasonably priced when viewed as a potential replacement for a separate pearls, differential generator and MNEMONICS app; though one limited primarily to internal medicine.

  • Real World Applicability

    A simple app that does exactly what it claims to do, but fall short of a strong recommendation due to its limited scope regarding diagnostic work-up and treatments for the many conditions included in the table of contents.

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 6 running iOS 8.3

  • Available for DownloadiPhoneiPad