Staying up to date with the medical literature is difficult, whether you're physician, medical researcher or student. Each year, millions of articles are added to medical journals, making it almost impossible to keep up with all recent innovations and studies. Especially if you choose to read through every possible research related to your specialty.
In fact, this is a good strategy, because it helps you gather a lot of information. However, being a tad selectable and also knowledgeable about recent studies and innovations is even better, but it still requires you to be skilled to browse through the ocean of literature to find what you need, exactly when you need it.
This was the reason why a group of physicians founded a website back in 2010, called Docphin, with "phin" standing for Personalized Health Information Network. The goal of this website was to help medical professionals to stay up-to-date on the medical literature in an easily accessible form.
In other words, instead of using a browser to search the online library for medical journals and papers, healthcare professionals could use Docphin website to access all those papers without unnecessary hassle or additional logins, even from own hospital or institution's library that was also integrated with Docphin.
Meanwhile, Docphin was also turned into mobile app for Android and iOS devices, which made the search for medical papers and articles even more convenient.
Last year (2016), Docphin website and mobile app have been acquired by health tech company HealthTap, who promised they would keep the Docphin's main purpose, i.e. making it easier for physicians to find and read medical research.
Docphin app requires users to create an account, by providing their name, primary specialty and profession, before proceeding to the main screen called Medstream, which is basically suggested news feed based on your selections, with titles and sources you can customize any time.
You can also add affiliated institution that will enable institutional access to view full text of some articles.
On the Medstream page, you'll see Docphin picks, new articles and articles trending in journals you follow. Based on my selections (emergency medicine), I've got 11 journals from New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, to Emergency Medicine Journal and Shock.
I was able to add more journals by tapping on plus icon. This led me to the list of all available journals, which literally blew me away. There are thousands (I didn't count, but browsing through the list took some time) of journals available, not only in English, which is amazing, making the Docphin app useful to physicians worldwide.
And that's not all. Among the journals, there are news sources such as ABC News - Health or New York Times that will allow you access their articles with multimedia, straight from the Docphin app.
Opening any article will actually open abstract, and these can easily be viewed and shared via email or social networks. You can also tap on the Star icon to save articles into your Saved folder.
Tapping on View Article or View PDF would open the full article text. View Article shows the text from the Journal websites embedded in the app, so the view looks really well. On the other hand, View PDF shows PDF document, which is too small. You can, of course, use finger gestures to zoom in or out, or to navigate, but having smaller screen makes it cumbersome.
A lot of the articles will require you to log in with your institution's credentials to view the full text, but if your institution doesn't have access you won't be able to see the content. In that regard, Docphin isn't omnipotent. It only gathers the content at one spot, but it would make it available only if you (or your institution) initially have access to it.
Still, there's a plenty of open access articles that don't require any subscriptions or credentials. For example, I didn't choose institution and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of articles I could access and view freely.
Docphin app also features Landmark Articles, grouped by specialty, topics of interest, or medications. Here you can access the articles from other journals as well (not just the selected ones). But the principle is the same, you'll be free to view abstracts or open access articles, but lot of these will also require institutional credentials in order to see the full text.
You can also use Search that allows you to find articles by title, author name or journal they've been published in, or by including advanced filters, i.e. year, specialty, format, article type, etc.
The interface of the Docphin app is simple and clean, making it easy to find what you're looking for. Navigation is smooth, although tapping on screen was sometimes unresponsive and slow.
This minor problem, however, doesn't affect my impressions of Docphin, which I recommend as a must-have app for all healthcare professionals, who want to find and view medical articles, journals and literature in an easy, convenient way.
Benefit: Physicians, medical students and researchers who want to keep up-to-date on the medical literature