July 03, 2012
4 min read

‘Feed’ apps enhance browsing efficiency for favorite journals

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Keeping up with the current literature can be challenging with a busy clinical practice, but thanks to the efforts of one hand surgeon, Jeffrey C. Wint, MD, orthopedic surgeons now have three customizable smart phone apps available for browsing the latest abstracts in their favorite journals. In this month’s Ortho Apps column, we review the apps and interview Wint about the creation of these useful tools.

The three apps created by Wint include BoneFeed, HandFeed and SportsMed. Each has a similar style and format with the primary purpose of browsing the most recent publications among general orthopedic, hand surgery and sports medicine journals, respectively. In addition, the developer has included RSS feeds related to particular topics that pull data from various sources. Because the functionality of each app is similar, we will review the three apps together. The apps are currently available in the Apple iTunes App Store and the Android Market.

The user interface of these apps is intuitive and simple, and upon start-up immediately presents a listing of recent headlines from a default journal: Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery American for BoneFeed, Journal of Hand Surgery American for HandFeed and the American Journal of Sports Medicine for SportsMed. However, in addition to the default journal, the user will see a familiar shortcut bar along the bottom of the screen that provides four icons to other journals. The fifth icon, labeled “more,” presents the expansive list of additional journals and RSS feeds. In total, this amounts to 29 resources for BoneFeed, 25 for HandFeed and 28 for SportsMed. By selecting the edit button, the user can customize their four shortcut icons by dragging and dropping the desired icon into the position of choice. The change is recognized immediately, thereby enhancing browsing efficiency for one’s favorite journals.

When a particular journal or RSS feed is selected, topics appear in a list with the title and a brief excerpt from the abstract. Selecting the title returns the entire abstract for free. However, if the user has personal or institutional access to the journal, then an icon at the top-right corner of the screen (Safari browser logo) will jump directly to the host site where the full-text PDF can be downloaded and viewed. Additional features from the abstract page include the ability to mark articles as favorites, post comments and share the abstract link via Twitter, Facebook, email or SMS.

Matthew DiPaola, MD 

Matthew DiPaola

Orrin I. Franko, MD 

Orrin Franko

Overall, BoneFeed, HandFeed and SportsMed are versatile, useful and simple ways to peruse the most current literature from a mobile phone. With the added features of full abstract views, sharing links and posting comments, the apps are a great resource for any orthopedic surgeon or trainee.

We asked Wint about the development of the apps, and he was kind enough share additional information with Orthopedics Today readers:

Matthew DiPaola, MD; and Orrin I. Franko, MD: Please share your background as it relates to your profession and software development.

Jeffrey C. Wint, MD: I am a full-time private practice orthopedic surgeon with a certificate of added qualifications in hand surgery. My software experience includes running my office website for the past 10 years, which forced me to learn HTML and other web apps. I watched online lectures from Stanford, read a lot on the Internet and spent time trialing different ways to construct apps. I took advantage of online learning tools and downloaded various software development kits to try different ways of making apps until I hit upon the right combination to get my ideas across.

DiPaola and Franko: What motivated you to create the “feed” apps?

Wint: Originally, I only wanted something for me because I thought I was missing a lot of literature out there. For the first few months, my first two apps, HandFeed and BoneFeed, existed only on my iPhone. Although I showed it to a few people, I mostly used it myself and enjoyed looking up literature. After using the app for a short time, I realized others would also like it and the rest followed. The motivation remained the same. I tried to make something that I like using and hope others would appreciate it, too.

DiPaola and Franko: What do you predict to be the evolution of mobile apps for orthopedic surgeons?

Wint: I think individual journals will get better at promoting their own articles. Eventually, they will come to realize that they can give content away for free and even bundle journals, as long as they obtain a paid sponsor or patron. Sharing and the discussion of journals will become a mobile social experience like a hybrid between a discussion board, a listserve, a journal club and Facebook. Ultimately, I think that most of the orthopedic literature will be online and available via an app. Clinical decision tree apps for medical decision making will flourish as well. I think that apps combining online data, references, recent journal articles, clinical decisions and protocols will replace handbooks and texts.

Another sector of growth will be electronically publishing ebooks and journals in larger formats for iPads and other tablets. My hope is that my own “feed” apps will be more sophisticated, versatile and better suited to tap into the electronic database or cloud, offer CME and, most importantly, make us recognize the depth and breadth of the international orthopedic community.

DiPaola and Franko: What would you like to share with orthopedic surgeons who may or may not already use your “feed” apps?

Wint: I think the feed apps are a great value, interesting and kind of fun to use. They are ideal for a quick scanning of current literature and most orthopedic surgeons will enjoy seeing abstracts of articles from journals they may not typically read, but without spending a lot of time. I find that if I tweet, email or SMS a reference to myself I can come back to it later with ease. In addition, quickly sending an abstract link to a colleague can be a simple way to promote discussion.

For more information:
  • 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 matthew.dipaola@wrightstatephysicians.org.
  • Orrin I. Franko, MD, is a PGY4 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 orrin@toporthoapps.com.
  • Jeffrey C. Wint, MD, is a hand and upper extremity surgeon at the Hand Center of Western Massachusetts in Springfield, Mass. He can be reached at jwint@handctr.com.
  • DiPaola and Franko have no relevant financial disclosures. Wint is the president of Hand Fed apps.