NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) was established in 1999 with a purpose of publishing clinical guidelines in the UK, which are evidence-based recommendations on a wide range of topics, from preventing and managing specific medical conditions to better planning in order to improve the health of communities.
NICE guidelines also regulate the use of health technologies and technology appraisal within the UK national health services, including new pharmaceutical products, new procedures, devices and diagnostic agents, and their clinical and cost effectiveness.
Other areas NICE guidelines cover are guidelines for clinical practice, i.e. guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions; guidelines aimed at public sector workers on health promotion and those made for social care services and users; and diagnostic assessment guidelines, which evaluates complex and costly diagnostics.
All these guidelines are available on NICE website, as well as in different publications and journal articles. Couple of years ago NICE also made a free mobile app for iOS and Android devices, as well as for Windows 8 PCs and tablets. This app allows medical workers and students a quick and easy access to more than 760 topics and guidelines, as well as thousands of individual chapters.
The substantial content is organized by public health topics and by type. You'll see both options once you started the app. The home screen also consists of three more tabs: new/updated guidance, bookmarks and history.
If you find it hard to browse through all the content this way, you can always use an in-app search function to quickly access specific guidelines of your interest.
Tapping on each option, whether it's by topic or type, expands the menu to more submenus, each having its own categories, sub-categories and topics. And that's really an impressive part of this app. You'll have an access to lots of high-quality evidence-based material on the go.
If you choose to browse by topic, the first option is Conditions and diseases, which basically lists all NICE clinical guidelines alphabetically, from blood and immune system conditions, cancer, cardiovascular conditions, to skin and urological conditions. Tapping on each of these conditions opens either guidelines for that condition or subcategories within the condition (for example different types of cancer). Some guidelines will repeat, depending on if they belong to two or more categories (for example renal cancer will be listed in both cancer and kidney conditions categories).
Other topics include health protection (covering the scope of communicable disease, drug misuse and environment), lifestyle and wellbeing, population groups (ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, etc.), different medical services (including delivery, organizational and staffing) and settings, which covers health topics based different settings, such as homes, schools, workplaces, transport, prisons, etc.
Browsing by type offers more familiar NICE setup, listing guidelines for different areas we mentioned previously, i.e. clinical and diagnostic guidelines, highly specialized technologies and technology appraisals, procedures guidelines, public health and social care guidelines, etc.
Once you have chosen a guideline you'll see various recommendations, treatment suggestions, the procedure steps, clinical and cost considerations, and many other steps, which all depend on type of the guideline. Information provided within the guidelines is written in detail and supported by a lot of reference material.
There's no multimedia, meaning that the app is mostly textual based, with a couple of tables supporting the information, but that's not a problem. Purpose of the app is to provide as much textual information as possible. Besides, the app is designed really well, so you won't have trouble finding what you're looking for.
Navigation is easy. There are forward and back arrows at the bottom of each page, allowing you to browse through guidelines chapters easily or to get back to previous screen or exit the guidance and return to home page. Each guideline can be bookmarked, and accessed later via Bookmarks tab on the home screen. You can also access recently viewed guidelines, also from a main screen using View history tab.
The NICE Guidance app is fast and responsive with well designed, modern interface. Search option works well and with accuracy, so you can find specific guidelines quickly, and avoid browsing through a vast amount of information.
The lack of personalization is what we disliked about this app. Users have not option to make their own 'version' of the app, except for the bookmarks, but there is no option to sort them by topic or type, hence no personalization.
Another thing is lack of share or print options, or ability to copy certain guidelines or parts of the text. Having these options for building a 'quick reference' base or sharing info with colleagues would be very useful. But, the app can be used offline, so this isn't much of a downside.
Also, once installed and started, the app will begin downloading all material automatically, which may cost you money if you're pay for you mobile data usage. Since this is done without warning or giving users a choice, this is a huge drawback. Be sure to turn off the mobile internet and turn on the wireless connection for free download.
Overall, NICE Guidance app is a must-have resource. Despite it's been made for UK medical workers, clinicians, nurses or medical students worldwide may find it very useful, as pocket guidance tool.
Benefit: All UK based clinicians and students may find this app useful to easily access NICE guidelines on their mobile device. App can also be useful to other medical providers worldwide, as a valuable comparison diagnostic and management tool.