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Overall value:
92 pts
With the help of Atmosphere Apps, Dr Scott Moses, a Family Practitioner from Minnesota turned his Family Practice Notebook website into a mobile point-of-care medical reference for primary care and emergency clinicians.

Scores

Cost-in-use
Free; Updates require subscription priced reasonably at $1.99 monthly or $19.99 annually
95 pts
App Interface Usability
Straightforward and simple navigation, although it could be cumbersome and confusing at places
88 pts
Multimedia Usage
Anatomy chapters contain public domain illustrations and images
93 pts
Real World Usability
Very usable as a quick pocket resource for medical providers
90 pts

Finishing the theoretical part of your medical education means you'll be on to more interesting and more responsible things, like the clinical phase of your education, i.e. clerkship. This phase includes a variety of rotations in public, private, inpatient, and outpatient care, with duration and lodging accommodations that vary from program to program (it's usually 4 to 8 weeks for each rotation).  Most programs require 7-9 rotations, with 1 or 2 elective rotations. Some of the programs require students to log each patient care experience and to complete evaluations at the end of each clinical rotation site. 

But, that would be a lot of notes to take, and it would be impossible to include all cases, especially those you may encounter later, during your internship or when you become a clinician.

One Family Physician from Minnesota had the same problem. So, he decided to make a collection of all of his notes, he was taking on his palmtop since 1995, and to turn them into a website. 

Over the years, Family Practice Notebook website grew a collection that now contains over 6000 interlinked topic pages divided into a tree of 31 specialty books and over 700 chapters. The website is developed, funded and maintained solely by Dr Scott Moses, who didn't stop on this. He decided to make things even easier for primary care and emergency clinicians, as well as interns and medical students.

With the help of Atmosphere Apps, the company that also made IDdx: Infectious Diseases app that we already covered in our review, Dr Moses made the Family Practice Notebook app, a mobile version of this rapid access, point-of-care medical reference that is available for both iOS and Android devices.

The app offers the same amount of information as the website, which is broken down into 31 categories, i.e. books; you'll see them listed alphabetically once you start the app.

The books range from cardiovascular medicine, dermatology, emergency medicine to pediatrics, surgery and urology. There is even category dedicated to medical jokes, which are pretty good. 

Each of these books/categories is broken down with the chapters, which are broken down further with headings. This kind of interface is straightforward, but repeated taping is required to move from book to chapter to heading, which can be inconvenient.

For example, Emergency Medicine Book has 23 chapters, listed alphabetically from Cardiovascular Medicine to Urology.  Almost every of these books has separate Examination chapter that would probably be the most interesting part for you during the rotations. Depending on the category they cover, here you'd find early warning scores, various signs and indexes, screening instructions, as well as questionnaires. Also, most of the books/categories have Anatomy chapter, featuring public domain illustrations and images, mostly from Lewis (1918) Gray's Anatomy.

The last item in any of these books' list is Return to Library (List of Books), which returns you to the list of categories/books, and is completely unnecessary, because tapping on Back does the same thing.

The headings within the chapters are listed sorted in topics. They expand to sections, which depend on the topic and category, covering definition, epidemiology, risk factors, causes, signs, symptoms, exam, diagnostics, etc. 

Sections expand further with paragraphs, which only offer brief information, usually listed as bullet points for quick reference. Tapping on one section expands all sections within the heading, and vice versa (tap one to condense them all), which may be confusing until you figure out how the app is working. This would work better if the topic content is available as whole, without the need to tap on to expand it.

The good part here is the use of hyperlinks. The content of each section contains several links, which take you to the related content within the app (other categories, chapters and headings).

Also, there is Breadcrumbs section at the bottom of each heading, showing where exactly in the app you are, and helping you navigate to previous chapter or book. Headings can also be bookmarked and accessed later via Bookmarks section.

You'll also notice a message that your content is out of date with the red button inviting you to subscribe in order to receive content updates. While the app is free to download and use in its original form, the subscription costs $1.99 for one month or $19.99 for the whole year, and allows you to receive monthly content updates with a systematic approach to peer-reviewed articles, bulletins, key texts in addition to conferences and workshops.

We leave this part to the users, but knowing that this kind of medical reference apps is rare on the market, subscription may sound like a good option. Plus, it helps Dr Moses running this awesome project he manages on his own.

Although labeled as Family Practice Notebook, this app covers a lot more, which makes it a great, invaluable point-of-care reference for primary care and emergency providers.

Benefit: Most benefit of this app would have primary care and emergency providers, and medical students in the rotation.

Verdict:

For
  • Easy to access point-of-care tool
  • Well-referenced with external sources and links
  • Good use of hyperlinks within the app
  • Subscription price is reasonable and it doesn't limit you from using the app for free
  • Available for Android and iOS
Against
  • Some parts of the interface are superfluous, cumbersome or confusing

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