EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

A blog for medical students, faculty and librarians about their use of evidence based medicine, clinical literature, Web 2.0, sources and search strategies

Tag Archives: Medical Software

Clinical Reasoning, Mobile Computing, Point of Care Tools: Medical Knowledge in Your Pocket

This month, the second-year medical students at UCHC are in the process of selecting and purchasing their mobile computing devices (PDAs or SmartPhones) in preparation for the beginning of their clinical clerkship year when they’ll be using them to keep a log of patient encounters, check for drug interactions, calculate laboratory test results, look up point-of-care medical/reference facts or other essential activities like checking email and sharing files.

I’ve noticed that quite a few of the first-year medical students are already using PDAs, Blackberries and iPhones, thus getting ahead of the learning curve.  Several are already using EpocratesRX, a basic mobile drug reference resource available at no cost from Epocrates.com.

Other free downloads popular with medical students are Diagnosaurus 2.0, a differential diagnosis tool from McGraw-Hill, and Archimedes, a medical calculator, provided by Skyscape.

A desirable feature when evaluating potential new library subscription products is the availability of a mobile computing version.  Examples of highly-useful clinical resources which come with a mobile version are DynaMed, Essential Evidence Plus, Lexi-Comp, Micromedex, MD-Consult/First Consult, and two integrative-complementary-alternative medicines resources, Natural Medicines and Natural Standard.

These last two resources are especially important when clinicians need to determine potentially hazardous drug interactions between “over-the-counter” homeopathic or dietary supplements and allopathic prescription medicines.


It is a rapidly changing world of devices, products, access, cost (and choices).  To review more of what is available in hand-helds for medical applications, visit a few pages* written for UCHC students by library staff :


Wikipedia.org has a page about Open Source Healthcare Software.

Recently I came across a free clinical calculator site which anyone can use: MD+Calc.  Thanks to Graham Walker for putting this site up. Below is a screenshot of the topic page “Endocrine/Metabolic“:

Image/Source credit: http://www.mdcalc.com/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

Finally, here is a brief list of other free clinically-oriented sites**:


* Note: Access to the clinical subscription databases described here is limited to UCHC students, staff and faculty.

** These links are provided for educational use only – not for clinical decision-making in the care of actual patients.


EBM, Education, PDAs: Getting Up to Speed with PDAs

It’s been a busy week here and so I am getting back to blogging. The second-year medical students have purchased new PDAs this month in preparation for their clinical clerkship which begins in July. They are also starting a formal course on clinical reasoning. Reference librarians are assisting them in getting up to speed with various clinical software – chiefly Lexi-Comp, DynaMed, Diagnosaurus, Archimedes, Shots – and “best ways” to use these decision support tools. As anyone who has used PDAs knows, what looks to be an easy and straightforward install can turn out to be anything but that… I spent hours trying to get an updated DynaMed on my PDA on Monday – with no luck at all so far. 😦

The standard rule of “smaller, cheaper, faster” definitely applies to PDAs. The newest models are slimmer, sleeker and offer more features including higher screen resolution than the model I am using currently (which is barely 3 years old). With a PDA in your pocket you can search for potentially dangerous drug interactions, calculate normal values (for example, determine a patient’s creatinine clearance rate), check your email or read an pertinent review article from NEJM using the hospital wireless network – all at bedside and without getting anywhere near the library! What a benefit for busy students and clinicians!

If you are interested, here are a few links to PDA resources. The first page was written by library staff for use by students, faculty and clinicians:

P.S. And I really like Lexi-Comp! *

Image/Photo Credit: Lexi-Comp Inc. – Copyright 2008 – All rights reserved.

* Just in case you are wondering: Lexi-Comp. Inc. did not pay me to say that. Our subscriptions to Lexi-Comp – accessible on the internet or the version for PDA use – are great products, updated daily and well-utilized in this clinical setting. Heck – only librarians would say they loved a database, anyway! 😉