One of the biggest challenges for healthcare professionals, especially medical residents and students, is dealing with the complex pharmacology, involving a wide range of diverse medications, high costs, trouble with use and doses, etc. The main reason for this is usually poor knowledge about pharmacology and pharmacotherapy, or complete lack of it.
Improving this knowledge would mean better quality of drug use. That's why the Teaching Resource Centre (TRC) founded by Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR), a research organization located in Leiden, The Netherlands, introduced new methods for the teaching of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics.
TRC is basically a curriculum-wide E-learning program with a goal to help medical students and residents to understand main pharmacological mechanisms of action. As an addition, CHDR also developed TRC Pharmacology app for mobile devices, as a more convenient way to use this educational material.
Upon starting the app, you'll be greeted with introduction page that explains the app, the motives behind its creation, as well as its goals. This page also explains how to use the app, which is done in really intuitive and unique way.
You can either swipe right or left to move between the sections and chapters, or you can tap on menu icon, or slide the screen down, which will reveal the tree menu and make the navigation easier. The screen is now horizontally divided with a new menu in focus. This way allows you to see exactly where you are in the app, in the same time allowing you to choose a particular section or chapter. Hyperlinks in the text also allow you to move between the sections. This is really intuitive way of presenting the material, and a huge plus for TRC app's interface.
As you may see from the tree menu, the TRC app provides users with basic pharmacological knowledge about pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics and adverse drug reactions. It also contains the information on mechanisms of drug action for various diseases, which are presented in separate sections, from acute conditions to pulmonological diseases. The app also provides information on pharmacology for certain populations, namely for pediatrics, geriatrics and pregnancy, as well as mechanisms of new drugs.
Each section contains detailed illustrated diagrams, which contribute to a better understanding of drug mechanisms. You can zoom in by simply pinching your screen. Diagrams don't lose any of their quality once they're enlarged.
Diagrams are accompanied by textual content, which further explains the drug mechanisms, using examples and links to formularies or other mechanisms. All drug mechanisms are presented in the context of pathophysiological processes, allowing better understanding of how certain drug actually works. The textual content is well written for a wide range of audiences.
Users can copy/paste both diagrams and text if they want to use the material in making their own notes. We found this to be extremely useful, because most apps don't allow 'extracting' anything outside the app.
The TRC app is also a learning or self-study tool that allows medical students and residents to test their knowledge by answering the short questions, which are available at the bottom of each article within Pharmacology and Diseases section. Each questionnaire contains answers, which help students in their learning process.
While pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic topics don't contain questions, they provide impressive content, which is definitely a highlight of this app.
As said, the navigation is super-easy and intuitive allowing users to easily switch between a chapter view and the tree menu at any time, just swiping the screen up or down. Swiping left and right once you're in the article, allows you to skip through chapters.
If you still have trouble with the navigation, you can use the Search option, which is really powerful and fast feature, allowing you to search through all the content or specifically for certain drugs.
The TRC app covers most common drugs prescribed across Europe. The new drugs, which are not required part of Leiden medical curriculum, are also covered in great detail within New Mechanisms section.
There is also Drug Video section, which contains two 'funny' videos that can't be opened, so it's basically useless as is.
All articles are well referenced, containing links that, by default, link to the Dutch drug reference website (Farmacotherapeutisch Kompas), but this preference could be changed under 'Settings', where users can choose British National Formulary (BNF) or Micromedex database instead.
The TRC app is amazing resource for all medical providers who want to learn more about complex drug mechanisms. It's also great educational tool for medical students and residents. I'd say it would be complete resource if it had included drug brand names and it had allowed users to bookmark articles, or at least have a history of recently visited articles.
Nevertheless, these two minor objections are just suggestions for future updates. They do not affect our overall impression with this amazing app.
Benefit: Medical students, residents, and all medical workers who want to learn more about complex pharmacology and different drug mechanisms.