With more and more mobile devices and apps coming onto the market, more and more information is available to rheumatologists on the go.
The role of apps in the clinic is bound to expand, says Salahuddin “Dino” Kazi, MD, a rheumatologist who is also the Chief Health Informatics Officer in the VA North Texas Health Care System in Dallas.
“As we practice less from experience and more from expert opinion and guidelines and checklists, and we start to put greater emphasis on quality and safety,” he notes, “we’re going to have to embrace tools, checklists, calculators, [and] other things that have been prepared by reliable resources that are part of our clinical workflow that we can easily access.”
Many rheumatologists still do not use apps frequently, he says.
“When I show these to other people on my phone—‘Hey, have you seen this, have you seen that?’—they haven’t,” he says.
Soon, though, all rheumatologists may have little choice—smartphones and their apps may become “so much easier to use or so much cheaper or so intuitive that there is no reason not to have it,” he says.
But which apps to use? Here are suggestions from Dr. Kazi and others for apps to use now and to look for down the road:
Mediquations (available on iPod, iPad, Android; $4.99)
This app includes 232 equations for medical scores and indices from mental health conditions to neurological episodes to, of course, rheumatology.
Rheumatology calculators include DAS scores, the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), and the SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI).
But the easy accessibility of other equations is also useful, Dr. Kazi says. For instance, a quick calculation of kidney function might be useful to see the effects of medications on the kidneys.
“When we deal in rheumatology with complex, multisystem disease, our diseases affect a number of organs, and so it’s very useful to have these things at your fingertips,” Dr. Kazi says. “Many of our patients will have secondary depression or they may have trouble with alcohol. And, if you just want to quickly do a depression scan or [a screen] for alcohol, it’s really nice to just have these handy.”
The app allows users to switch between S.I. units and U.S. units for each variable entered. Users can also keep a list of favorite equations, view equations by category, and copy notes from this app to note-taking apps.
“I think Mediquations is one of those that should be in everyone’s pocket,” Dr. Kazi says. “It’s so broad.”
Rheumatoid Arthritis Vital Education (RAVE) Mobile app (iPhone and iPad; free)
Just released in March, this app was developed jointly by the continuing medical education company DKBmed and the Johns Hopkins Division of Rheumatology.