Ortho apps deliver useful information and functions to the user
The smartphone market continues to grow exponentially. Their low cost, portability and ease of use of these devices have recently broadened market penetration a trend we believe will continue.
Part of the mobile device appeal is the ability to deliver useful information and functions to the user through apps. An app, which is short for application, is a program that typically performs a distinct set of tasks. Once downloaded onto the smartphone, it lives there and usually does not require an Internet connection to access content.
Often apps are a reflection of a larger website. But because not all websites are formatted for browsing on the small mobile phone interface, the app may replace this function. Apps also can serve as reference utilities that replace books and sophisticated calculators, and can replicate the functions of many other tools that physicians use on a daily basis. Apps come in all shapes and sizes, and the purpose of this column will be to introduce Orthopedics Today readers to some of the best orthopedic-related apps available.
This month we will review three broadly applicable orthopedic apps: AAOS Now, Orthopedics Hyperguide and ORTHOSuperSite.com.
What you see is what you get. AAOS Now is a digital version of the newspaper that arrives to our mailboxes monthly. Articles are less encumbered by ads, but at the cost of being poorly formatted for smartphone screens with large amounts of text. The article content is the same; however, there are added features including webcasts and video casts. Overall, the app serves as a digital format to obtain the same AAOS Now news, but because this is actually a web app, an Internet connection is required to access articles. Thus, the greatest benefit of this app is having the advantage of easy access and portability of AAOS Now when a printed copy or computer is not available.
Orthopedics Hyperguide is the corresponding mobile app for www.ortho.hyperguides.com. The app is divided into the same categories as the website by format (video, podcast, etc.) and by topic or subspecialty. This allows the user to absorb educational content in a way that suits a specific learning style by establishing a tutorial and completing it at a comfortable pace.
One of the big features, especially for residents or physicians completing maintenance of certification, is the question bank. For the purpose of this review, we created a sample quiz of 10 questions from random fields. Pros: A way to study on the go (i.e., subway, bus, etc.) and receive an emailed test report with answers. Cons: The test does not permit the user to change an answer. The solution is not to select an answer until you are ready. During our trial, we experienced difficulty loading images associated with some of the questions.
Having CME available when on the run is certainly convenient, and other offerings will likely continue to grow. A great feature is that the CME certificate was emailed directly to our inbox.
Unfortunately, like many other apps, the registration process is lengthy and cumbersome and clearly intended towards collecting market research from users. The extra steps involved in registration may detract some potential users. However, the benefit in gaining access to peer-reviewed content and CME likely is worth this extra step for most users.
ORTHOSuperSite.com app is the corollary app to the ORTHOSuperSite.com website, Orthopedics Today and Orthopedics. In contrast to the AAOS Now and Orthopedics Hyperguide apps, content is focused more on news stories from Orthopedics Today and Orthopaedics Today Europe, as well as blog posts. In addition, the electronic media versions sometimes contain continuations of stories that were teased in the paper publications.
During our testing, the app had some delays when loading content and the occasional not loading content at all, as well as missing multimedia from the designated tab. Nevertheless, as the quirks of the app are improved, this has the potential to provide surgeons with valuable orthopedic news in a mobile format. Overall, this is a nice way to read news when on the go.
Next months Ortho Apps will cover clinical exam apps.
- Matthew DiPaola, MD, is an assistant professor and shoulder and elbow specialist in the Department of Orthopedics at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is a writer for iMedical Apps and co-founder of Touch Consult, a developer of team based medical software to improve signout. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Orrin Franko, MD, is a PGY3 orthopedic resident at UC San Diego. He has an interest in promoting mobile technology within orthopedic surgery and founded the website www.TopOrthoApps.com to help surgeons and trainees find the most relevant orthopedic apps for their mobile devices. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Disclosures: DiPaola and Franko have no relevant financial disclosures.