One of the other sessions I spoke in at EMSA18 was the technology session, when four of us (Jesse Spurr, Michael Edmonds, Lachlan “Lachie” Graham and I), chaired by Andrew Perry, presented our top apps.
This was a great opportunity to showcase the apps we use regularly and some of the innovative ways that technology can support us, both in clinical care and in our wider careers. I’ve included some of the apps here, in the hope that you too can find something new and useful. I’ve included generic links wherever possible but some may only be available on particular platforms (not my fault, sorry!).
Jesse’s Top Apps
Cost: $4.49 AUD £2.99 UK
Triage ATS Pro has been around for a while, even garnering a review at LITFL’s Tech Tool Thursday. This app is specific to the Australian triage scale, but is a good example of how we can support our learners with key ED skills. Wayne Varndell has put together this app with the aim of training new triage nurses. It includes a self-test option; I can see that a similar version could be developed for triage in the UK using other triage systems (maybe it already exists? If so… let me know!)
I’m sure you’ve heard of MDCalc, but did you know there’s an app version? It is brilliant for EBM-practitioners, bringing decision scores and their evidence base to your fingertips and with a handy NNT function to help you translate stats for the patient in front of you, facilitating shared decision-making. You can save your favourites too.
Cost: $35.99 AUD £21.99 UK
This is a low-cost solution to the challenge of in-situ sim, allowing you to use two devices as monitor and controller. Great for use with your simulated patient rather than a manikin. I know alternatives to this app exist but many seem to be unavailable through the iTunes app store. This one is still on the market.
There’s a review of the app by Tim Leeuwenburg below.
Cost: $22.99 AUD £14.99 UK
Frustrated because your sim participants put the ultrasound probe on the manikin but you can only show them a grainy printout of the view they should have achieved? Then you need Awesome Ultrasound Simulator. Admittedly, your participants still need to demonstrate to you that they know roughly where the probe should go, but when you click the appropriate anatomical area on the handy body map, you can call up a short clip showing the pathology (or not) they would see in your scenario. I’m hoping we might trial this one at Sydney HEMS induction soon…
Jesse uses this app to keep track of his CPD, which is not a bad idea. Again, this may be quite Australia specific, but worth a look if you’re a budding app developer as I’m not sure there’s anything equivalent in the UK. Correct me if I’m wrong and I’ll add links in here.
Lachie’s Top Apps
Cost: from $39 AUD/month from £25 UK / month
There are a number of apps that work to consolidate your twitter accounts. Tweetdeck is my preference for desktop/laptop/MacBook at conferences as it allows me to follow my own feed, as well as my mentions and the conference hashtag (as well as direct messages and any other hashtags I choose). It also permits scheduling of tweets. What you are paying for at Hootsuite is smart analytics; you can schedule tweets for a specific time, or you can let Hootsuite read the analytics of your followership and decide when scheduled tweets will have the greatest impact. In addition, it works across multiple social media platforms. Probably useful if you’re planning an event but maybe a bit much for the average twitter user. Worth it? You’ll have to ask Lachie.
Cost: FREE (but you need to have Microsoft Office 365)
Lachie uses OneNote to synchronise notes from his phone across his other devices and into Microsoft apps. There are other apps that do this – I guess it just depends what sort of integration you need. I use Microsoft Office 365 but not OneNote (see below) so this one got me thinking…
Again, this is Australia specific, but it looks like a fab app I’d never heard of. Unlike the UK, Australia is BIG on proprietary drug names, and having worked in generic names throughout my career so far I am still pretty foxed when patients give me medication lists, trying to work out what it is they are actually taking. This is less of an issue since the introduction of electronic prescribing in NSW using eMeds, but this is still useful for pharmacological info and interatctions – seems to me like the Australian version of the BNF & BNFC apps (which you should definitely have if working in the UK).
Michael’s Top Apps
Michael was all about integration. I consider myself pretty organised but he kicks my ass at making technology work for him. One day when I have some free time…!
I think Scott Weingart was the first person to mention this to me, and I know Simon uses IFTTT so I should probably look at it properly. IFTTT works by setting up rules around what you “do” with the stuff you interact with; tweets, emails, photos etc. You give it access to your accounts and tell it what to do and it does it. Sounds simple… But how can it help? Michael’s example was having it automatically record blog posts and journal articles he was reading to a spreadsheet of CPD hours, making logging and accounting for this stuff much easier. I get the feeling it could cut down on the hours spent amassing info for my tax return, too. And there’s more…
This is an app I do use – Pocket is great for saving those links you find scrolling through Twitter and really want to have a look at properly, but you just don’t have time right now. You can send them to pocket, then flick through a list of your saved articles later. And if you integrate with IFTTT, you can record the fact that you did get round to reading them eventually…
Integrating IFTTT with GoogleSheets allows Michael to keep records of his CPD etc. I use GoogleDrive, GoogleDocs and GoogleSheets for documents I want to share and stuff I need ready access to (our Christmas card list, which doubles as an address book is my most opened GoogleSheet!). You can get these functions through other apps, but if you use Gmail then this is a natural extension.
I have to say, I’m not a fan of slack. It is a brilliant idea – a shared workspace, where you can branch off into separate groups and discussions, and share documents and links – but it just seems like an extra thing in my life. I’ve tried it with a number of different projects – The Teaching Co-Op, smacc organising committee – and I’m yet to feel the love. But I know a lot of workplaces use it regularly, so if this is the sort of thing you need, maybe it’s a solution for you. It exists in both smartphone and desktop versions with a single login and, to be fair, you can work seamlessly between the two.
Nat’s Top Apps
I almost exclusively use my phone for twitter, except at conferences when I use Tweetdeck. I won’t try to sell Twitter to you here – suffice it to say I have gained professional opportunities and great friends through the Twitter community and I thoroughly recommend it. More here.
Again, I won’t rant too much about this here, only to say that if you can perform basic life support, PLEASE, PLEASE register as a GoodSAM responder. You aren’t obliged to respond if alerted (e.g. if you’re driving on a dual carriageway in the wrong direction as I was, the only time I have been alerted so far), but you might be the difference between rapid, good quality CPR and a significantly less positive outcome. There’s also a defibrillator locator function, allowing you to upload photos with GPS location to help map available defibs wherever you are, and to find them if you need one in the community. More on GoodSAM here and here.
Another notation app; the paid version allows you to save your notes for offline access, but I have rarely needed that function. Evernote has smartphone, desktop and online versions which are all integrated. I made my FRCEM revision notes on Evernote, which is handy when I remember that I used to know something but have apparently forgotten it entirely – Evernote is my peripheral brain. It allows you to add photos and even PDFs into files. The ALIEM PV cards are a great addition.
There is also a paid version that has a few extra features. Simon Carley uses this as it has much better indexing and linkage facilities. Although he swears by the paid version the free version gives much of the same functionality so will be fine for most people, or at least as a great introduction to this great app.
I’m rubbish at ultrasound, but most rubbish at cardiac ultrasound. The FATE card is a fantastic aide memoire; the first of four screens shows probe positioning and identifiable anatomy, the second shows extended views, the third screen shows cardiac measurements and the fourth gives examples of pathology. I really only use screens one and four; I often get the app out when ultra sounding with students and juniors so we can “revise” probe location, orientation and anatomy together. Brilliant (and credit to Simon who introduced this to me years ago).
This is of no use to you if you’re working outside New South Wales, but I include it as an example of how technology can really help clinicians. ITIM has created the app as a repository of guidelines and resources (including burns diagrams you can shade to calculate BSA, and RSI checklists), addresses and capabilities of healthcare facilities (including which facilities have blood – vital for prehospital care in rural NSW) and some handy clinical calculators. It’s award-winning too. A great creation and one worth looking at if you’re keen to develop something similar for your health system.
I hope you find something useful in there. I’m excited about trying out Awesome Ultrasound Simulator, about downloading AusMed so I finally know what medications my patients are taking and about seeing how IFTTT works for me. Thanks again to the speakers for sharing their wisdom and to the EMSA organising committee for inviting me to participate. Now, go and download GoodSAM!