Friday, February 3, 2006
Posted by Darius Wey in "SOFTWARE" @ 09:00 AM
Over the years, 5-Minute Clinical Consult (5MCC) has become one of the indispensable clinical texts in the medical industry. Unbound Medicine, in association with Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, recently introduced a handheld version of the 2006 text, which in many ways, beats carrying around the actual book. Read on for a quick look.
The 5MCC application is broken into two parts - the primary 5MCC text, and Diagnosaurus (a differential diagnoses tool). The interface is simple, thus making the application very easy to use. At the top (see Figure 1), there are two bars. The first bar allows you to switch between 5MCC and Diagnosaurus, though when viewing actual clinical material, it changes to a title bar. The second bar contains a drop-down menu which allows you to switch between different sections. For example, in the main 5MCC index, you can switch between clinical topics, medications, and ICD-9 codes. Deeper into the text, within a particular "chapter", that menu changes (discussed later in the review). At the bottom (again, see Figure 1), there are also two bars. One is a toolbar, consisting of a Back button, a Home button, an Index button, and a Text Size button (with five different options). The other is a dynamic search bar that filters through the vast amount of information on-demand.
Figure 1: The easy-to-use 5-Minute Clinical Consult (5MCC) user interface.
Opening a particular topic, medication or ICD-9 code brings up the relevant "chapter" of the text. It's broken up into six main sections - Basics, Diagnosis, Treatment, Medications, Follow-up, and Miscellaneous. Each section is nicely organised; detailed reference material is formatted with blue headers, black text, and bullet points for easy reading. You can navigate between these different sections using the menu bar discussed earlier, but also using the Previous and Next buttons situated in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Toward the top-right corner, you'll notice a button graphically portrayed with a set of blue and red arrows. This is a Related Information button which conveniently links to relevant topics in Diagnosaurus.
Everything in 5MCC is clinically detailed. All the topics contain information on statistics, signs and symptoms, causes, risk factors, diagnosis and associated procedures, clinically relevant laboratory tests and results, pathological findings, imaging, treatment, medications (both advised and alternative), follow-up care, and other miscellaneous factors. It sounds like a lot, yet amazingly, all this occupies only 4.2MB on the device. And, I haven't even discussed Diagnosaurus yet!
Figure 2: The Diagnosaurus - mammoth in size, though hardly extinct. ;)
Diagnosaurus is a differential diagnoses tool for signs, symptoms and diseases. It contains over 1000 common presentations, and links directly to the primary 5MCC text. The user interface of Diagnosaurus is no different. The drop-down menu of the Diagnosaurus index presents three different sections - Organ System, Symptoms, and Diseases. Clicking on a particular topic within a section brings up material consisting of an etiology list (possible causes of a condition) and a DDx list (a list of alternative diagnoses) where relevant.
Like before, the Related Information button (in the top-right corner) links to relevant topics in the primary 5MCC text.
Figure 3: Medicine Central offers an easy-to-use, web-based, over-the-air service for 5MCC/Diagnosaurus and many other texts.
Unbound Medicine also provides a web-based Medicine Central service, alongside the 5MCC/Diagnosaurus software package. It contains a drug reference (Davis's Drug Guide), test manual (Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests), and a MEDLINE journal tracking and searching service. The portal has been designed for both desktop and mobile use, so it formats itself nicely in a mobile browser such as Internet Explorer Mobile.
There is a lot to love about the handheld version of 5MCC: zero bulk, dynamic searching, and tight integration with the added Diagnosaurus tool. If you're a medical student or physician who demands on-the-spot facts for a huge number of clinical conditions, then Unbound Medicine's package is definitely worth a look. There is a free trial version on this page, and if it tickles your fancy, you can purchase the full version for $64.95. Considering all the extra features that can be derived from an electronic version of the text, I think it's well worth the money spent.