App Review: BNF & BNFc

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BNF logo

Name: BNF BNFc

Content producer: BNF Publications

Operating system: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (iOS 8.0 or later 160mb) and Android (4.0.3 or later 116mb)

Available from: iTunes and Google Play

Tested on: Samsung S7

Price: Free

Type of Information: The BNF and BNFc are the primary sources for information on prescribing and medicines licenced in the UK.

For: The publishers say…The BNF & BNFC App is aimed at prescribers, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals who need sound, up-to-date information about the use of medicines.”

Main pros:

  • Contains all of the content from BNF and BNFC in one app
  • Easier to navigate with a more intuitive design and enhanced features around search and interactions checking
  • New evidence grading feature

Main cons:

  • Takes up much more space than the previous two apps combined
  • Loss of some features such as bookmarking

A new BNF and BNFc app launched over the summer is set to replace the old NICE BNF and BNFc apps. With the new app combining BNF and BNFc content into a single app it aims to be faster, easier to use and access than the previous apps which will both be withdrawn later this year, users of the old apps will see a banner notifying them of this nearer the time. NICE are encouraging users of their apps to migrate across to the new app and have announced that as of July 2017 the old apps will no longer be updated[1].

The new BNF and BNFc app comes from BNF Publications, the publishing arm of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The app is free to download and, unlike the old apps, is purpose built for iOS and Android. The app features offline browsing and searching so users can use the app in settings where there is no internet or Wi-Fi connections. A connection is only required during the initial download and for updating the content monthly.

Information is organised into six sections: Drugs, Treatment summaries, Medical devices, Interactions checker, Borderline substances and Wound care. Users navigate the sections by accessing the menu icon in the top left hand corner of the screen. To alternate between the two formularies users must access the menu and select the drop down arrow at the top to select the formulary they wish to view. The app will remember the formulary selected, even when the app has been closed, until the user changes it.

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The app opens onto the Drugs browse page, the current formulary selected and the section being viewed is always shown at the top of the screen and the app will briefly display the month and year of the content being viewed at the bottom of the screen.

Drugs information can be found by browsing or searching. Users can browse by drug / medicine name by tapping the relevant letter on the a-z list or can search by name using the magnifying glass at the top to reveal the search bar. The search feature has an autocomplete function with suggestions shown as soon as the user starts typing.

Each record contains the same content found in the print and online versions of the BNF and BNFc, with information arranged under the same headings as the print and online versions. Full range monograph information on dose, interactions, side-effects, and cautions are included, as well as information specific to patient groups or profession-specific prescribing.

Treatment summaries are also included in the app and are arranged by the body system they relate to. However, users can also search for treatment summaries by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top of the screen to access the search bar.

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The interactions checker tool allows users to check interactions for one drug or for two or more drugs. Although, each drug record contains full interactions information the interactions checker tool allows users to discover interactions between different combinations of multiple drugs. This tool can be accessed from the main menu or from within a drug monograph via the three dots.

Some of the features which have not been brought across on this app include the bookmarking option. And while the new app has a fresher, simplier colour-scheme, the different formulary branding colours in the previous apps did make it easier for users to differentiate between the two. The app also takes up more space than the previous two apps combined and the clinical content updates are a bit harder to navigate to, as there are now a couple of menu steps to perform to locate them instead of the What’s New tab on the old app.

However, one new feature not available on the older apps is evidence grading. Evidence grading has been in use in BNF Publications since 2016 to reflect the strength of the recommendation to support clinical decision-making based on the best available evidence. At the moment only a small number of clinical recommendations have evidence grading applied, but the publishers promise that more evidence grading will appear with each monthly update. The evidence grading feature can be switched on or off in the settings part of the main menu.

On the whole the app performs better and is easier to navigate and unlike the NICE apps an OpenAthens account is no longer required for the app to work, although the publishers do make it clear that the app is for NHS users only – for those interested in eligibility please see the T&C Section 14, Definitions: NHS Users. More information can be found at BNF & BNFc App FAQs.

All posts on this blog are subject to the St George’s Library Disclaimer, please take the time to read it carefully.

[1] https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/new-improved-bnf-and-bnfc-app-launched

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App Review: BMJ Best Practice

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BMJ BP

Name: BMJ Best Practice

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group

Devices: Smartphones and tablets with Android OS 4.2 or later and iPhones and iPads with iOS version 7.0 or later. We tested this app on an iPad.

Available from: iTunes App Store or Google Play.

Price: Free.

Available to SGUL students and staff only. Details on how to access the full content are included at the end of the post.

Type of information: Point of care, clinical decision making support tool.

For: UK healthcare professionals and healthcare students.

Main Pros: This new version of the app (released in 2017) requires substantially less storage on your device. Content is available offline after the initial download so it can be accessed at any time. Condition summaries contain links to relevant guidelines and papers. Daily content updates and the CME/CPD tracker can help keep you up-to-date in your chosen specialty.

Main Cons: A personal subscription is necessary for those without institutional access. Savings in storage capacity have been made by not including images in the downloaded data – they are now only available when using the app online. Initial search function was quite basic, but this has been addressed in a recent update.


BMJ Best Practice provides access to reliable information and guidance on hundreds of medical conditions that can be used to support you in clinical decision-making. This companion app to the web version of BMJ Best Practice is designed to be used on the move and after an initial download, content can be accessed when offline, which is particularly convenient if you are unable to connect to Wi-Fi.

This new version of the app will be familiar to anyone who has used it before, with the majority of changes being cosmetic and offering a cleaner, more responsive experience. New users should find the app intuitive and easy to navigate. The home screen offers a simple layout with a central search bar, and the icons at the bottom of the screen allow you to browse by speciality; browse the available calculators or quickly locate information you have recently or commonly referred to.

Condition summaries are broken down into sections and subsections, such as ‘Diagnosis’, ‘Treatment’ and ‘Management’ or you can use the ‘Highlights’ section for a quick summary and overview. This highlights section will also link to related conditions, or to clinical guidelines where appropriate. Each topic has a ‘Last Updated’ date underneath the heading so you can be sure the information is current and you can browse through all of the sections by swiping from right to left, or by using the back button to choose a different section. This is especially helpful in longer, more complex entries.

Where necessary, summaries will contain links to relevant guidelines, resources and articles which will then open in your device’s browser when connected to the internet. You can explore these as you read, or refer to the ‘Resources’ section for the full reference list. Links to the full-text of an article will also appear if the article or study features in a journal that the Library subscribes to.

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Download Instructions (for SGUL staff and students)

[PDF instructions available here]

  1. Create a ‘My Best Practice’ personal account on the BMJ Best Practice website (http://bestpractice.bmj.com/) whilst using either a computer in the Library Computer Rooms; a Library laptop; or using a device connected to the St. George’s eduroam WiFi network.bmjlogin
    Remember the email address and password used to create the account.
  2. Download the app from the iTunes app store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).
  3. Launch the app. When asked to log in, use the same email address and password you used to create your My Best Practice account.
    bmjaccess
  4. The app content will automatically begin to download. It will take about 5 minutes on a good WiFi connection.

Remember!!
Your subscription must be renewed every six months by logging into your My Best Practice personal account on the BMJ Best Practice website http://bestpractice.bmj.com/ using either a computer in the Library Computer Rooms; a Library laptop; or using a device connected to the St George’s eduroam WiFi network.

If you experience any difficulties in downloading the app, or need any assistance in using it, email us at liaison@sgul.ac.uk

All review of mobile resources are subject to the St George’s Library Disclaimer, please take the time to read it carefully.