Having a mobile app that can help you form a differential diagnosis based on vague to specific symptoms is crucial, especially if you're a medical student on a rotation.
Even seasoned physicians may find this kind of app useful if they need to formulate a differential or to make a diagnosis for patients with atypical symptoms.
McGraw-Hill Medical's Diagnosaurus DDx by Unbound Medicine is that kind of app that allows medical students and physicians to quickly access over 1,000 differential diagnoses by organ system, symptom, or disease.
Once an integral part of 5-Minute Clinical Consult (5MCC) app we reviewed on SteadyHealth, Diagnosaurus DDx was eventually turned into stand-alone app for Android and iOS devices, but maintained the same look, and more or less the same functionality as its previous parent app.
You'd notice this once you started the Diagnosaurus DDx app. It requires $4.99 purchase for full version, but you'd be able to choose the free preview that offer limited features, just like the 5MCC app.
The Diagnosaurus DDx app opens to a simple menu, with the same flat design. It features a list of differential diagnoses categorized by Organ system, Symptoms and Diseases.
Tapping on Organ system would open the list of subcategories listed alphabetically, from Breast and Cardiovascular to Urology. You'd notice that this category also features EKG and Lab tests as well.
Opening Symptoms category will give you differentials on common chief complaints, also listed alphabetically, starting with several types of abdominal pain.
Finally, under Diseases you will find a huge list of differentials based on various diseases, from abdominal aortic aneurysm to herpes zoster.
The app's developers advertise that the Diagnosaururus DDx app contains more than 1,000 differential diagnoses (similar as their 5MCC app). I honestly didn't count all diagnoses, but by simply skimming through these lists, I've noticed that some of the entries repeat, such as 'abdominal pain' and 'pain, abdominal', and so on.
Nevertheless, these lists contain almost any clinical situation that you could think of and that's good thing about this app. Also, they are huge, so using Search option was more convenient solution, which fortunately worked well.
However, if you expect that the Diagnosaurus DDx app is some sort of decision support tool that would help you make diagnosis, prepare to be disappointed. The app doesn't work that way.
Instead of helping you establish diagnosis based on vague or specific symptoms, Diagnosaurus DDx app only helps you "initiate the process" of formulating a differential.
You'll notice that the conditions or symptoms pages don't provide you with too much information. Differentials are listed in a form of bullets that list all potential diagnoses related to the symptom, only giving you a hint what could be wrong with your patient.
You won't get detailed recommendations on additional tests or considerations that may help you formulate the differential diagnosis.
While this approach may work with more experienced and seasoned physicians, who already may guess what's wrong with their patient even without using the app, medical students need more details and better guidance. That's why Diagnosaurus DDx app disqualifies itself from being the relevant learning tool for students on rotation.
Also, this brief format doesn't justify the need of having a stand-alone app. Diagnosaurus DDx app would work better if it remained a part of its parent app, 5MCC, because it share the same design and functionality, and adds nothing new or innovative.
Another problem is the price. I'm not sure that the scant information is worth the money. There's a plenty of other apps that offer more and better information for less money, or some of them even for free.
Also, just like its previous parent app, Diagnosaurus DDx app requires an overhaul, particularly regarding design and functionality. Its developers should add guidance and recommendations on exam, test or treatments, which would be particularly useful to medical students.
That additional information doesn't have to be extensive. It could still remain brief, but should add more steps when formulating the differential diagnosis. You can check SteadyHealth's review of QuickEM app to see what I'm aiming at.
I know that Diagnosaurus DDX app is not meant to be a medical encyclopedia providing an exhaustive information, but rather simple and quick differential reference tool. Still, it requires a lot more effort to earn our recommendation.
Benefit: The app is intended for medical students on rotation, as well as seasoned physicians.