Medical Apps Forum

So you got a new smartphone for Christmas and the first thing you want to do is start loading and trying out all these apps you keep hearing about.  Well it might interest you to do know that iMedicalApps has just launched a new medical apps forum for the medical community to discuss mobile apps and technology. 

Not only will there be general discussions about various apps but they will have specialty areas for people to discuss specific issues without the post getting lost or  bogged down in the general discussion area. In addition the editors and writers on iMedicalApps will be answering questions about mobile technology in the forum.

iMedicalApps is a great resource for reading articles about medical apps for smartphones, hopefully the forum can take that information and extend it and keep it current and practical.  I’ve registered and will be either lurking or posting or combination of the two, it will be interesting to see how it evolves.  Unfortunately they didn’t have librarian as a choice for profession.  Kind of bummed on that.

Make Your Own QR Code and Mobile Website

Last week was a busy week for me.  Monday I attended a great class, “Information Anywhere: Mobile Technology, Libraries and Health,” taught by Technology Coordinator of the Greater Midwest Region, Max Anderson.  It was very interesting, we learned about various apps and devices used in the medical and health science workplace.  We also got a chance to create our own mobile friendly website using Google Site.  Google Site might be the perfect resource to create a quick and simple mobile website, but it would work in a pinch for most places that don’t have a lot of tech people who can easily create a whole new mobile website for the library.  The big thing to consider when beginning to create a mobile website is to remember that the mobile site is not a mini version of the full website.  It is a unique site that is used differently because of the size of smartphone screens AND the way/why we use our smartphone to access a resources. 

Another interesting part of the class was the discussion of QR codes.  I have been seeing these square codes everywhere, from grave markers, party busses, hotels, in the back of a book, and out on the street.  While have seen them  in a lot of places, and I have been thinking of the various ways they could be used in a meaningful way in libraries.  During the class we learned how we could not only create a QR code but also brand the code by adding our logo. Max slides showed a blue one with NLM in the middle, I couldn’t find that online but here here are some other examples of QR codes with logos. We also did some brain storming on how QR codes could be used in the library.  One example that really resonated with me was posting the QR code on the book shelves letting people to scan the code to learn about online textbooks that aren’t on the shelves.  Our library just discussed this problem last week in a staff meeting.  As we buy more and more online texts and even online reference texts how to we guide people to the updated books that aren’t on the shelf.  There are an awful lot of people who still do a lot of shelf browsing and don’t use the catalog to find books.  Perhapswe could add the QR code in an obvious area  on the shelves and have link to that stack’s subject area to online text books.  It is a thought.  I’m not sure how it effective it will be but if you could figure out how to measure usage of those codes that could be one way to measure if people are clicking on them. 

Is your library using QR codes, if so how?  Perhaps you aren’t using QR codes but you have an idea on how they can be used, leave a comment so we all can learn.

NLM Show Off Your Apps Contest Winners Announced

The winners of the National Library of Medicine’s Show Off Your Apps contest were announced

The five winners are:

GLAD4U – (Gene List Automatically Derived For You) is gene retrieval tool that uses NCBI’s program utilities and gene ID mapping tables to find information associated with each gene, publications, and links for “file exports and further functional enrichment analyses.”

iAnatomy – An interactive anatomy atlas that can work without an Internet connection and allows people to search and zoom in on structures.

KNALIJ – Offers researchers a method to deal with massive amounts of data by making connections linking biomedical and life science research and researchers around the world.  These link can also be visualized to allow for easier exploration analysis and education.

NLMplus – Provides a emantic search a discover application to the large amount of information and services in NLM.

Quertle – Instead of using keyword searching it uses linguistic methods to find the most relevant documents.  Quertle is for life science professionals searching multiple life science literature resources including Medline.

For list of the honorable mentions go to


Apple’s Medical Apps Section #Fail?

According to iMedicalApps, “Apple tries to help doctors categorize medical apps, but falls short.”  I mentioned last month that Apple created a medical/health section to help healthcare professionals get to good apps and not have to sift through the junk in the general health and medical section in iTunes. 

At that time I was concerned about who would be adding and vetting the apps.  It seems this concern was justified.  Although it appears the section isn’t just an open free for all for any app developer, there is some frustration with what is and isn’t listed in the categories.   

In his post, Iltifat Husain, expresses his concerns not only about the type of apps in the new section but the type sub-categories as well.  “The imedicalapps team was expecting apps to be separated by specialities — or at least by broad medical professionals, such as “nursing”, “EMS”, and “physician centered” — but this was not the case.  Apart from the issue with sub-categories, Apple missed the mark with not only the apps that were included, but also the extremely useful apps they excluded.”

Iltifat does a really great job evaluating the new medical apps section and he goes into a lot of depth regarding the sub-categories in the section and what apps are listed there and what are not. 

I only disagree slightly with his complaints, specifically about sub-categories.  Iltifat would rather see apps in organized into profession sub-categories rather than function sub-categories.  Apple chose to have 6 sub-categories; Reference, Education, EMR & Patient Monitoring, Imaging, Point of Care and Personal Care.  I understand Iltifat’s argument that nurses would rather just go to the nursing sub-category to download all of their needed apps rather than bounce around to different categories to download apps here and there.  However, given that an app on EMR and Patient Monitoring could be in multiple profession categories (doctor, nurse, etc.) I can see why the creators chose to go with function of the app as a category rather than who it is directed towards.  Tomato…tomahto.  Welcome to the world of librarians where we try to categorize everything to make it easy for everybody to find.  As hard as we work at, and as much as we think we did a good job of categorizing, somebody doesn’t think that method of organizing makes sense.

Apple’s method of organziation makes even more sense to me as I read Iltifat’s very good argument that many of the apps listed in the categories are either not really professional apps (WebMD in Reference), are too old to be listed as a good app (USMLERx Step 1 in Education), or missing crucial apps (Osirix and ResolutionMD in Imaging).  The people who organized these apps were not medical professionals and weren’t medical librarians familiar with the medical app world.  The fact that they made several errors not only in the inclusion and exclusion of apps but also what is considered professional and consumer tells me that they wouldn’t know what apps would be appropriate for nurses, doctors, EMS, etc.  Basically they did the best they could. 

There are pros and cons to having the apps organzied by either profession or function sub-categories.  As a result the medical librarian in me would say have both sub-categories with the apps listed in multiple places.  However, that would require them to have a professional (dare I say it?) indexing the apps, placing them in the correct categories and also selecting (and deselecting) appropriate apps as they are developed.  The Apps for Healthcare Professionals section needs a medical librarian, but clearly they don’t have one.

It would seem that the Apps for Healthcare Professionals is a basic place to start if you are medical professional  and you have time to sift through the general medical/health category to find those quality apps that for some reason didn’t get into the professional apps section.  Medical professionals are probably still best served by either looking at what their library suggests/offers or using the web to find suggestions from other medical libraries or sites like iMedicalApps.   

There are many medical librarians out there already selecting apps for that would be of interest to their users or are available through institutional subscriptions.  An added bonus is that many of the medical libraries list more than just iPhone apps (which iTunes of course does not) so it is a one stop shop for many professionals with different devices. 

Some of the libraries that already have lists are:
(Please note if app requires institutional subscription)

So if you are like Iltifat and frustrated Apple’s attempt at organizing medical apps, a medical librarian looking for a good list of apps to start your own list, or somebody that doesn’t have the almighty iPhone, you might want to look at a medical library.

Vote for Your Favorite Library App

Library Connect has been promoting the Apps for Library Idea Challenge past few months on Facebook and Twitter.  The Apps for Library Idea Challenge was launched to get librarians discussing user problems or needs and then creating methods to help solve them.  Librarians from around the world submitted 40 app ideas and now the field has narrowed down to the 10 finalists. 

It is now time for librarians to comment on these 10 finalists.  Comments can be made from now until October 14th.  Not only will your comments help support the ideas but all those who made comments are eligible to be entered in a drawing for a gift card.  After the comments, voting for the favorite app idea will happen between October 17 – October 28 with the winner to be announce in early November.

You must register to make a comment and enter the gift card drawing. 

Apple Makes Finding Medical Apps for Professional A Little Easier

According mobihealthnews, Apple quietly launched a new section on the AppStore directed just towards healthcare professionals.  The section which was referred to as an “iTunes Room for Healthcare,” has apps for both the iPhone and iPad intended specifically for healthcare professionals. (There appears to be about a dozen apps that are also for consumer use.) 

Not only will this section be dedicated to apps for healthcare professionals but it will also internal categorization as well.  There are six categories for the medical apps: reference, educational, EMR and patient monitoring, imaging, point of care, and personal care (for consumers).  Mobihealthnews thinks that the “personal care” apps may have been included “as a means to help care providers recommend popular health apps to their patients.” 

Finally!!!!!  That medical/health section had a lot of junk apps that people had to sift through to find good stuff, it is nice to see this professional section come about. My only question is how/who is adding and vetting the apps?  I hope it isn’t a free for all where app developers can just add their app if they feel like (meaning we could return to problem of chaff out numbering the wheat) but I would like it to be open enough that something that was good but accidentally left out or something newly created could be easily added.

Friday Diary: Moving from iPhone to Android Part 2

Part 2 of moving from an iPhone to an Android: (click here for part 1 in the series)

 General or Pre-Installed Apps:

The calendar, camera, camcorder, messaging, market (Android market), and maps are fine with me.  The calendar uses Google Calendar and that is what I use, so for once I didn’t have to do a lot of set up. It pretty much recognized my account right away.  One minor critique is if you have only one thing listed on a day, in the monthly view it appears as if that day is open/available.  Only by clicking on that day do you see that one thing.  So you either have to change your view from monthly or click on the day to make sure.  Maps uses Google Maps and it is very good.  It is more robust than the standard maps app I had on my 3G iPhone.  Google Maps does not speak/talk to you like a GPS might, MapQuest has a free app that does that.  Both MapQuest and Google Map are very similar except for the audible directions feature.  I am testing both out on my way to/from work and errands so that I can see which one I like the best when the time comes that I really need a map.  The Android market is very similar structurally to iTunes, but ther seem to be a lot of comments about apps working/not working depending on various Android operating systems.  (That is just kind you get with an Android.)  Additionally, whenever you download an app you get several warnings about what that app can/will do to your phone and what systems it affects.  Some of the warnings are nice to know but sometimes they are overwhelming and don’t always make sense to average users. Heck downloading a simple stopwatch app had a few warnings.

Clock and Keyboard:

The clock is one of the pre-installed regular apps on my phone that I was disappointed with.  Really how hard is it to have a clock app that also has a stopwatch and timer?  Clearly the developers don’t have kids or stay close to their oven when they are cooking.  I used the timer feature on my iPhone all the time.  I would set the timer for 15 minutes and tell the kids when it rang it was time to clean up, go home, give somebody else a turn, etc.  I would also use it a lot for cooking.  I am no master chef but the timer on my oven is quiet, so in addition to setting it, I would set the timer on my phone.  That would allow me to go upstairs, go outside and watch/play with the kids, etc.  I am just befuddled that somebody creates a clock app for a phone but can’t include a timer and stopwatch.  Stupid. But I did find a good free app called StopWatch & Timer.  It is simple and does exactly what I need it to do.

The keyboard on my Triumph is touch screen, similar to the iPhone.  But it behaves slightly different.  I can’t explain it exactly, but two things I noticed are the keys are a different size and they touch each other.  The iPhone keys are slightly smaller and there is some space (not a lot) between each letter.  I was having some real problems typing on the Android keyboard, but I figured this was just something I would have to retrain my fingers on.  However, the one thing that I loved that wasn’t on my Android was an auto corrector & spell checker.  Now, I know some people (like my husband) HATE the auto corrector & spell checker on the iPhone, but I really liked it.  For all of the funny mistakes my iPhone’s auto corrector made, I came to rely on it and adjusted my text/typing style to deal with it and use it to my advantage.  For example, I would just hit the space bar twice to get a period at the end of the sentence.  The Android had some sort of auto suggestor on its phone, but it didn’t replace words, it didn’t do the double space bar period thing, and its vocabulary was very limited.  Combine that with the slightly different keyboard buttons and it was taking me twice as long to write/text something with a bunch of spelling errors in it.  It was out of my desire for an auto corrector that I found the A.I.type Keyboard app.  Not only does it have an auto corrector but it also allows you to change the style of your keyboard to an iPhone.  While the auto corrector is not as good as the iPhone, it is better than nothing and I am doing better at typing.


Oh I have such a love hate relationship with Google.  I love its email, calendar, docs, search engine, and I think I like G+.  But I absolutely HATE, HATE, HATE having my Google Contacts as my phone contacts.  UGH! What a freaking nightmare and the worst decision for Google to force more people use Google.  If I was more paranoid I would start to believe Google is amassing this information for some nefarious reason.  Why does Google need my mom’s phone number?  I have people in my Gmail who should stay there, not to be duplicated in my phone’s contacts. I also don’t want all of my phone’s contacts moved to my Gmail.  For example, my online bill pay companies all came over into my phone contacts.  Additionally, if you synced your other email accounts and your FB account on your phone, it moves those over as well.  It was and still is a total organizational disaster.  Now there are settings that say only put people in contacts if they have a phone number.  I checked the box, but still I got my online bill pay sites in my contacts.  Additionally, if you have a contact listed in multiple places it duplicates all of their information.  For example my mom’s email address is in my Yahoo and Gmail address book.  When I clicked on her name in my contacts list there were 2 email listings (all the same address) under her contact name, but I couldn’t delete them from my Contacts because they were being imported from my Yahoo and Gmail.  In addition to having multiple people with multiple emails, I had multiple phone numbers listed 3,4,5 times under the same person.  The winner for having the most duplicate phone numbers and emails is Mike.  He has 6 duplicate emails and his cell number is listed 3 times under his name.  His work and our home phone aren’t listed even though I synced those before I moved.  The best part is I can’t easily delete all of these duplicates.  Not only is this frustrating for me personally, but it kills my voice recognition system with my car.  I have a new Ford Flex and one of the things I love, love, love is that it uses Bluetooth so that I can answer my phone or call somebody completely hands free. My phone could be in my purse in the trunk and if somebody calls me I can answer it by tapping a button on the steering wheel.  (The conversation is public, it is heard through the car’s speakers.)  If I want to call somebody I tap a button and say, “Call mom at home.” It then dials my mom’s home number.  Well if you have multiple phone numbers listed under a person that all say home the system gets confused. 

I don’t know what was worse, setting up and fixing all of my contacts or syncing my email systems to the phone.  However, I think I am leaning toward contacts as being the worst feature on my phone so far.  The email syncing took 2 hours and 2 beers.  The contacts mess is taking several days to figure out and work on.  I have yet to find an app that fixes this mess, if you know of one that is free please let me know.  I almost feel like it might be faster if I nuke everything and start loading my contacts from scratch again.  I think I might have to undo or nuke my email and FB syncing to fix it too. This mess with my contacts has almost caused me to run back to Best Buy and return everything and go running back to AT&T.  It also led to a huge fight in my house on how to the damn thing working the way I want it to work. 

DoubleTwist for my music player:

The Triumph does not come with a music player, which actually is kind of good for me.  I already have a lot of songs in iTunes.  I loved using my iPhone as my iPod so I definitely wanted to use my Android in a similar fashion but I just heard of nightmares trying to move your iTunes library into WindowsMedia.  DoubleTwist is a free software and app combo that uses your iTunes library.  You download the DoubleTwist software onto the computer that has your iTunes and you download the app to your phone.  DoubleTwist is like a shell system over your iTunes that builds and syncs your iTunes library to your Android phone.  You still download songs through iTunes, create play lists, and amange titles using iTunes, but DoubleTwist makes it possible for your iTunes work on your Android.  I am told that everything you ripped from CD to iTunes will work on iTunes.  However, if you purchased music on iTunes prior to iTunes Plus (January 2009) that music won’t come over to DoubleTwist due to DRM issues.  But you can make those older songs available on DoubleTwist by paying an extra .30-.60 cents per song. 

Downloading my songs to my Android was where I had my first experience with my memory card.  Memory cards in phones are new to me since iPhones didn’t come with them. You bought an 16GB iPhone, you got about 16GB of memory.  The Triumph comes with a 2 GB mini SD card and wow that is not enough memory.  I wasn’t able to sync all of my songs because I ran out of room.  Had I really thought about memory cards and phones I would have realized this before I even tried to sync my songs, but I forgot.  Thankfully I had an old 8GB mini SD laying around from an old camera that went belly up.  I used that and that worked.  When I get around to it I will probably buy a 16GB mini SD for the phone, or maybe if my 8GB one is doing fine I might just wait around until the prices of a 32GB come down a bit.

Hopefully next week I will have my contacts straightened out and I will let you know that disaster resolved itself.  I intend on looking at a few medical apps that I used to have on my iPhone and see if they are available on the Android and how they work.

Interested in Writing About Medical Apps?

The iMedicalApps website has grown quite considerably quite quickly.  They are considered one of the most popular sites featuring posts on a medical mobile applications written by health care professionals.  They are also looking for sumer interns and looking hire part time and full time employees in the fall. 

So if you are techie minded, can’t live without your mobile device, have an insatiable desire to investigate and play with medical apps then you might want to consider contacting iMedicalApps.

Show Off Your Apps

The National Library of Medicine is holding a Show Off Your Apps: Innavative Uses of NLM Information Challenge.  The challenge is open to individuals, teams, and organizations.  “The purpose of this contest is to develop innovative software applications to further NLM’s mission of aiding the dissemination and exchange of scientific and other information pertinent to medicine and public health.”

In order to be eligible, apps must use the NLM’s colelction of biomedical data, including downloadable data sets, APIs, and/or software tools.  Basically it looks like you have to have an app that uses NLM stuff, not just some cool medical app that doesn’t have any content from NLM. 

Apps will be judged via the following criteria:

  • Quality and Accuracy (data are presented accurately)
  • Impact on Potential Users (data presented clearly to target audience)
  • Usability (operation of program requires minimal training and has the potential for repeated, regular use)
  • Innovative Design (creativity and originality of concept)
  • Platform Neutrality (operates on major web browsers, systems, and mobile devices)
  • Extensibility (potential for further development)
  • Alignment with Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines (see standards at:

Submission deadline is August 31, 2011.

Winners will be honored at NLM awards presentation in Behtesda, MD on November 2, 2011.

For more information go to:

On a personal note, I really hope they will list all of the submissions and have links to them so that we can test them and play with them.

100 Free Kaplan E-Books Through Apple Bookstore

According to Kaplan is offering 100 free e-books through the Apple Bookstore for a limited time.  There are 19 medically related books available including USMLE books, MCAT, and CCRN books.

Unfortunately this free book detail is only available to iPad and iPhone users (because the deal is only available at the Apple Bookstore) until August 30, 2010. 

Check out for more information and some good screen shots of what the books look like on the iPad (they state it is “significantly easier” to read the books on the iPad).