As diligent clinicians, EMS providers are always trying to find the newest information. However, there’s such a vast amount of information available, and it’s difficult to find it in one central location. At least, that was the case before the development of the smartphone, tablet computer and other mobile computing devices.
Since the development of the various mobile devices, we’re able to conform the device according to our preferences with applications (apps). Apps refer to the software applications that operate on mobile devices.
Although you can purchase apps in several places (depending on the device you own), there are two major players in the market. Currently, the largest provider of apps is the Apple App Store, which operates on the iOS for iPhones, iPads and iPods. Currently, the App Store has more than 500,000 apps. The next largest provider is Google’s Android Market. The Android Market operates on a variety of smartphones and tablet computers. The Android market has just under 500,000 apps.
With such a vast quantity of apps available, it’s difficult to evaluate all of the apps that relate to EMS. Because of this, we will focus on a few select topics in EMS and discuss some of the available apps for each topic.
Pharmacology Reference Apps
Micromedex Drug Information, produced by Thomoson Reuters, is an absolute must have for EMS providers. This app is free on the App Store and Android Market. With frequent updates, it provides the clinician with a searchable database of prescribed medications. EMS providers can search by generic or trade name, as well as browse by name alphabetically or by drug classification.
Two other great apps by Micromedex are the Drug Interactions app and the IV Compatibility app. Currently, both of these apps are $9.99 each. The Drug Interaction app provides the potential interactions, the likelihood of interactions and the potential timeframe of interactions. The IV Compatibility app provides the clinician with possible drug-to-solution and drug-to-drug compatibility considering various factors that may affect potential efficacy/complications.
The Pill Identifier app by Drugs.com is available on the App Store at a current cost of $0.99 for the basic app and $39.99 for the Pro app. Both apps have a searchable database of more than 10,000 drugs. Providers can search for drugs by name or imprint. These apps also allow providers to browse by pill shape or color. The major benefit for the Pro version is the fact that Internet access isn’t required because the entire database resides on the device. The basic version requires Internet access for the database.
The iPharmacyPro app is available for free on the App Store (Android Market). This app has a large searchable database that can be searched by trade or generic name. The clinician is provided with a wealth of information from the recommended dosage to how it’s packaged. Other great features of this app include the ability to search based on app-defined categories that are easy to navigate and the ability to share discovered information with others through e-mail.
The EMS Pocket Drug Guide by McGraw-Hill is currently available on the App Store and Android Market for $14.99. This app has an extensive database of drugs that can be searched by both trade and generic name. The great feature about this app is the drug-based spell check. Click on the fuzzy tab in the search bar, and it does a great job of automatically finding the drug you were attempting to locate. I tested this several times, and it was quite effective. Other features include the bookmark feature that allows EMS providers to save drugs they reference often. This app also allows the provider to go back and forth between drugs they’ve looked up during the session.
Clinical Reference Apps
ERres is a quick reference tool for emergency medicine that’s currently available on the App Store for $3.99 (Android Market). The wealth of information is short and concise with great graphics. The information is up to date, well cited and reliable. ERres covers a variety of medical and trauma emergencies, as well as resuscitation information.
PalmEM is currently available on the App Store for $5.99 and the Android Market for $9.99. The app has medical and trauma issues categorized by body systems. It also contains clinical decision rules based on current best practices. Other features include a weight-based pediatric chart and an A–Z browsing feature.
The Merck Manual is commonplace on the desks of many emergency rooms. This invaluable resource’s Professional Edition is available on the App Store for $34.99. Providers can browse this app by section, symptom or through the index. The app also has an excellent search feature to find specific disorders. A great feature of this app is that if you click on a specific disorder, a list of similar disorders appears across the top, which allows EMS providers to browse to assist with their differential. Merck Manual also has a variety of links that will relocate EMS providers to another part of the app. And if you click on a drug in the app, you’ll be presented with some of the trade names.
The ARUP Consult, a free app found in the App Store, is an essential app for any EMS provider who's doing interfacility transport. This app is filled with information about clinical lab data that may be beneficial during transport. Labs are not something that EMS providers deal with regularly, so the benefit of a searchable database that can be quaried by specific lab or clinical diagnosis is a fantastic tool.
Isd Respiration is a free app available on the App Store. Isd as some fantastic graphics and information about the respiratory system. The app reviews volumes, pressures, gas exchanges, respiratory disorders and more. After the clinician reviews the vast amount of information on the app, they can take a quiz.
The Blood Gas Handbook is a free app available on the App Store and the Android Market. This app provides the clinician with a large amount of information on arterial blood gas (ABG), oxygen parameters, electrolytes, metabolites, and arterial sampling. This app is great for paramedics providing interfacility ventilator transports.
The Ambu Airway Management app is free on both the App Store and the Android Market. This app has several videos from a variety of physicians describing best practices in airway management. Many of the videos accompany several PDF articles reviewing the information being discussed on the videos.
The A-Fib Educator is available for free on both the App Store and Android Market. This app provides some excellent information about atrial fibrillation and patient management. One of the best features of this app is the associated videos demonstrating a fib on the monitor, as well as mechanical function of the heart. The visual effect of watching these together on the monitor really helps put the disorder into perspective.
The ECG in Motion app is currently available on the App Store for $11.99. This app does an amazing job of correlating the mechanical function of the heart with the electrical function of the heart and demonstrating it on an ECG. This app provides initial and experienced providers with a great visual representation of what’s going on in the heart in a variety of arrhythmias. This app also provides a quiz to evaluate your knowledge.
If you need a review of rhythms and 12-lead ECGs, the ECG Source app is available for $1.99 on the App Store. This app has more than 90 strips for the clinician to evaluate, and the quiz feature allows you to evaluate your knowledge. It’s a great app for the price.
As EMS providers enter the 21st century, it’s imperative we stay current with trends in technology. Smartphones and tablet computers are used by physicians and nurses to reference clinical information. With the vast amount of information that EMS have to reference, it makes sense for us to have some resources too. Although we’ve used hard copy flip guides in the past that have helped us perform the job, newer technology allows us to carry textbooks worth of information that are searchable and easy to navigate. Now EMS providers can access information quickly and efficiently.