Emergency Medicine - MDCalc and other must have Apps

Health IT and General
Rob Brisk
June 18, 2023

Our top 5 Apps you should never start an ED shift without

Ever yearn for ye olden days of clinical medicine, where every treatment plan read either “chop it off” or “stick leeches on it”? In an age where published medical evidence is growing exponentially, expectations of medical professionals are correspondingly higher. In a modern ED, you can encounter pretty much any ailment known to mankind, and you’re expected to deal with them all quickly and effectively.

The more sub-specialised medicine becomes, the harder it is to be a generalist. Take, for example, VT versus aberrantly conducted supraventricular arrhythmia. Once upon a time, a mouthful of boiled foxglove and a good thump on the chest would have done for either. These days, the treatment pathways are completely different. ED professionals are expected to make the right diagnosis, treat the patient accordingly, then go deliver similarly evidence-based treatment to the chap in the next room with possible polytrauma from an RTA. It’s a tall order.

For those of us old enough to recall a golden age when the Nokia 3210 was the pinnacle of modern technology, it’s an alluring belief that we can continue to practise medicine the same way we were taught at college. But the truth is that the world has changed. The litigation-happy culture of modern society gives short shrift to the idea that keeping up with the latest evidence across a huge range of disciplines is not humanly possible.

Top 5 Emergency Department Apps

So what’s the solution? Arm yourself with a world of medical knowledge at your fingertips by turning your smartphone into a font of clinical information.

If you’re anything like me, you hate cluttering your phone with lots of junk you never use. So to help you navigate the busy world of medical apps, here are our top 5 must-have Emergency Department Apps that will allow you to stay ahead at the point of care - click the link below to skip ahead or scroll to view.

1. MDCalc
2. BNF for children
3. UpToDate
4.Eolas Medical
5. MedScape

TOP 5 ED Apps

Check out our top 5 apps - Click the image to view the App, explore & download!

1. MDCalc

The source for medical equations, algorithms, scores, and guidelines.

MDCalc Logo

If you haven’t already come across this then I at least hope the rock you’ve been living under isn’t too draughty. MDCalc’s collection of risk and severity scoring calculators is an absolute must-have at the point of care. It ensures that assessments you need on a daily basis like the Wells score or the CHA2DS2-VASc score are no more than a few clicks away.

MDCalc offers a web version with a super-clean, user-friendly interface. But the mobile app will give you access to the same content at the bedside.

2. BNF for children

The information app, provides access to the latest drug information quickly, offline and on-the-go.

BNF Publications - Apps on Google Play

Perhaps less relevant for our colleagues across the pond, the BNF has been the UK’s drug bible since 1949. The app has been around since 2012. Updates can be a little buggy and it has a rating of just 2.8 stars on the Google Play store at the time of writing. But the content is indispensable (no pun intended) and the search functionality is pretty good, so it’s well worth having a copy on your phone.

Do note, though, you’ll need to register and login to use the BNF / BNF for Children apps.

3. UpToDate

A mobile app for the point of care providing clinical decision support.

UpToDate - Apps on Google Play

This fantastic resource from Dutch company Wolters Kluwer provides expert-written evidence summaries for the vast majority of medical conditions you’re likely to encounter during an ED shift. Regularly updated and fully referenced, it’s a great place to go for information you can trust. The sections are well structured and digestible. The mobile app works well and can be really useful if you need to jog your memory about a condition you haven’t seen in a while at the bedside.

UpToDate is a paid service so you or your organisation will need a licence to get access. It’s worth noting that the content is the same wherever you are, so UpToDate is generally a second-line information source for conditions that aren’t covered by your local guidance and policies.

4. Eolas Medical

Designed for Doctors by Doctors, manage all your clinical guidelines in one place to ensure the highest level of care is consistently delivered.

Where UpToDate ends, Eolas Medical begins. It’s a place for your department to put all their local guidelines, treatment pathways, policies, education and training materials, staff schedules, patient leaflets, etc. Whereas hospital intranet systems present a "direct barrier" to accessing key clinical information,Eolas Medical gives you everything you need on your smartphone via a friendly, intuitive interface. It downloads and updates important content when you have an internet connection so that you can still access it in signal dark zones.

5. MedScape

Access what you need, when you need it.

Medscape - Apps on Google Play

MedScape isn’t in the fifth position because it’s the worst of the apps listed here. Rather, it’s the one you’re least likely to need on the shop floor. MedScape is primarily a place to keep up with medical news, and it also has some great educational resources for continuing professional development. It does have some clinical calculators and other useful point-of-care tools, but it’s certainly not going to be competing with MDCalc any time soon.

If you encounter an especially tricky case, or if you are worried about whether you did the right thing for a particular patient, MedScape also has a “Consult” feature where you can talk through cases with your colleagues or even access expert advice via a paid service.

So there you have it: a clinical app toolkit that won’t break your phone. Arm yourself with these great solutions and you’ll have ready access to everything you need to deliver great evidence-based care even in these fast-moving times.