Mobile Apps & Resources: MDCalc

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Preamble

Librarian reviewers consider the audience and purpose of the apps, as well as highlighting additional features:
 
  • In the ‘Evidence’ section, we assess how easily an app user can identify the app’s currency and support from the evidence
  • In the ‘Usability’ section, we assess the organization of information and other usability factors that may contribute to user experience

Our complete grading criteria for evidence and usability are embedded in the review.

Please note that the reviewers are not healthcare professionals, and so cannot appraise the quality of any recommendations within the app. The reviews are not endorsements.

View the AHS policy on Mobile Wireless Devices and Services.

 

MDCalc

 

MDCalc

Version reviewed

Apple iPhone Version 12.3.1 (NL)
Android App Version 1.0.23 (BHS)

Device & OS used

Apple iPhone 8, iOS 12.1.4 (NL)
Motorola E4 Android 7.1.1 (BHS)

Date of review

July 26, 2019

Reviewers Brianna Howell-Spooner (BHS) & Nicole Loroff (NL)
Technician Support Melanie Belliveau

 

 

Image Source: MDCalc, Apple App Store. ‚ÄčRetrieved on August 2, 2019 from https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/mdcalc-medical-calculator/id1001640662 

 

Stated Purpose  

Retrieved from the Google Play and Apple App stores:

“MDCalc clinical decision support is created exclusively by board-certified physicians for use by physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and medical students. The simple yet sleek app provides access to more than 270 easy-to-use clinical decision tools including risk scores, algorithms, equations, formulas, classifications, dosing calculators, and more…Our exclusive “MDCalc Method” for selecting tools - including in-depth appraisal and validation of evidence AND clinical relevance - results in only the highest-quality tools to help you make better decisions and be more efficient in your workflow. And our network of academic and practicing physician experts create easy-to-digest content to reinforce decision making and support training:

• Insights and advice from the EBM creators (e.g. Dr. Phil Wells’ on the Wells’ Criteria).
• Expert content by specialists on use cases, pearls & pitfalls, results interpretation and more. 
• Synopses of the evidence from the original and validation research.”

One of the founders states that the app was created because was spending too much time on memorizing scores and equations, which took focus away from patient care. Source: https://www.mdcalc.com/about-us

Features

None

Screenshots

Specialties/Disciplines

No specialty specified

According to the app description: “…physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and medical students.” Anyone with legal permissions to assess patients could use it.

Notes

None

Part 1: Editorial committee, content updates, and evidence grading

Editorial committee information for MDCalc is listed on the app’s website, but is not available in app. However, all committee members appear to be affiliated with reputable institutions or organizations. While the app is updated frequently based on version history, entries are not individually dated so it is unclear if or when content is reviewed. Evidence grading is not applicable to MDCalc, although links to relevant validation studies are provided.

 

Part 2: Source and authorship information for 3 entries

An evidence section does appear to be included for each calculator/scale/score that provides formula details and other information needed to explain and appraise the tool, although some entries are more flushed out than others. Supporting literature is also provided as well as information on the calculator/scale/score’s actual creator or inventor. However, no information is listed on who created the entry or wrote the content. An assumption can made members of the editorial board were involved, but this is unclear. 

Organization of information

The app provides several options to access and organize content. When browsing, there are 4 main tabs: “Favorites”, “Recent”, “My Specialty”, and “All”. The “All” tab lists all calculators organized alphabetically. The other tabs are for quick access to frequently used or potentially relevant materials. These tabs are populated based on user input. Filtering of content based on type (Diagnosis, Rule Out, Prognosis, Formula, Treatment, Algorithm) is also available, however, one most actually use or click on the search box to access these advanced filters. Search results can also be filtered based on “Disease” or “Complaint”. 

Navigation

The app is straightforward and easy to navigate. Some confusion may stem from trying to access the filter options when using the search function, but this does not impede actually accessing or finding content.  

Extras

None

Internet connection required for use: PartialAccess to the internet is needed to view linked articles within the evidence sections. It is not necessary for using the calculators/clinical decision support tools or other parts of the app.

Text search field: Yes; 

Browsable content: Yes; The app includes a sophisticated browsable search, where users can narrow by six different categories (Diagnosis, Rule Out, Prognosis, Formula, Treatment, Algorithm) and based on “Disease” or Complaint”.

Advertisements: No; 

Pop-up advertisements: Yes; The app does include advertisements for MDGuidelines and MDPearlPulse, which link to the MDCalc website outside of the app. While these ads are for content related to and produced as part of MDCalc, the advertisement itself does not appear to show any correlation to the actual content or calculator being accessed. For example, an ad for Guidelines “Renal Mass: Localized Renal Cancer” popped up on the BMI & BSA calculator. Thus, the reviewers would consider these links as advertisements as opposed to an additional feature.

In-app purchases: No

Devices 

iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch iOS 9.0 or later. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mdcalc-medical-calculators-decision-support/id1001640662 last updated July 10, 2019 (version 2.2.5).

Android smartphones & tablets OS 4.4 and up. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mdaware.mdcalc&hl=en_CA last updated May 22, 2019 (version 1.0.23).

Size

173.4 MB (iOS); 72.62 MB (Android) [Google Play Store has app listed as “52M” for file size]

App Developer

MDCalc

Country of Origin

United States

Contact

A contact form is used both in app and on the MDCalc website. No other contact information or details are provided. 

Website: https://www.mdcalc.com/contact

Google Play Store listing includes the email team@mdcalc.com