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BNFc content into a single app it aims to be faster, easier to use and access than the previous apps which will both be withdrawn later this year, users of the old apps will see a banner notifying them of this nearer the time.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: DynaMed Plus

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DMP logoName: DynaMed Plus

Publisher: EBSCOhost

Devices: Any iPhone® or iPad® or iPod touch® running iOS 9.3

or higher. Any Android device running Android 4.4 or higher.
The app requires at least 500MB of memory.
Can be authenticated on up to 3 devices per activation link.

We’ve tested this app on an iPhone 6 and an iPad Air2.

Available from: iTunes App Store or Google Play

This app is available to NHS staff and SGUL staff and students.

*Details on how to download and authenticate the app are included at the end of the post.*

Price: Free to download

Type of information: Clinical decision making support tool.

For: doctors and other healthcare professionals at point of care, and healthcare students.

Main Pros: Similar in design, layout and functionality to the web-based version. Content available offline after initial download. Links to full-text supporting articles and guidelines within topic summaries where available.

Main Cons: Requires around 1GB of storage space depending on device. Link to calculators not available on home screen of the app, unlike the web-based version, requires a separate search to access them.

An in-depth look

The DynaMed Plus app is the app version of a point of care resource that St George’s Library subscribes to. It provides access to over 3,400 clinical summaries covering a broad range of specialties and is designed to support healthcare professionals in clinical decision making. It covers the same content as found on the web-based version of DynaMed Plus, with the added benefit of being accessible offline. However, the content can require a fair amount of storage space on your device. The publishers recommend to have a minimum of 500MB free, but in our testing we’ve found the App has required around 906 MB on iPad Air 2 and 1.16GB on an iPhone 6. Presumably this will likely increase as more content is added and updated over time.

In terms of functionality the app is really simple to use and fairly intuitive – it is almost identical in layout and design to the web-based version which presents a nice continuity of usage. The home screen presents you with a search bar and in the top-right hand corner you’ll find a Bookmark icon which houses your previously saved pages, and search history. There is also a settings icon that allows you to change the text size, check for updates to the app and search the help pages, which does require an internet connection.

The search function has an intelligent auto-suggest feature, which will show you your results in the form of topics and searches that match your terms as you type. You can then either review the topic summary directly, or view the search terms instead. Once you are viewing a topic you can scroll through the entire summary as you would a web page, or you can browse by section. How you do this depends on how you are holding your device. In landscape view the section headings can be found on the left of the summary, allowing the user to dip in and out of the topic sections. Holding the device in portrait forces the section headings into a separate bar at the top – you can navigate these by selecting the magnifying glass icon that will appear on the top right of the screen, next to the topic summary heading. There are also other icons in the bottom right of the page that allow you to bookmark the summary, email or print the topic, or make notes if required. If you do any notes to the summary, the empty notepad icon will fill with lines to indicate you have done so.

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Many of the topic summaries provide external links to webpages and supporting articles which will display the article abstract or full-text article if available through an institutional subscription (OpenAthens or St George’s, University of London). Again, despite the app content being available offline you will need to be connected to the internet to access anything linked outside of the app.

Despite being very easy to use, some of the resource’s most useful features are buried within the app somewhat, which is unfortunate. The calculators and decision trees have a direct link in the title bar of the web-version, but no counterpart within the app. They can be found by searching for them, which isn’t as user friendly as a link or icon. This can also be said for the thousands of supporting images the resource has – they can be found and browsed in your search matches, but we felt that embedding them in their own section within the topic summary would make them much more identifiable.

Available to SGUL staff and students

PDF for how to download DynaMed Plus App for SGUL staff and students

Available to NHS Staff

How to download and authenticate the DynaMed Plus app for NHS Staff:

1. Access DynaMed Plus via NHS OpenAthens or the Hospital intranet page

2. Click on the Mobile use – Get the DynaMed Mobile App link under Spotlight.

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3. Enter your email address and click send.

4. An authentication link is emailed to you.

5. Open the email from your device and follow the links to download the app via the iTunes Store or Google Play.

6. When prompted, authenticate the app via the OpenAthens link- look for the Athens link at the bottom of the authentication page.

Note: If you do not tap the authentication link in the email within 48 hours you will need to request a new authentication key from within DynaMed Plus.

7. The DynaMed Plus App opens on your device and begins the initial content download.

Note: It is recommended that you are on a Wi-Fi connection for the initial download of DynaMed Plus content as well as when updates become available. Initial download can take up between 10-30 minutes.

Getting more help

DynaMed Plus have produced this useful video to get you started with DynaMed Plus.

If you need support with your OpenAthens account please contact Stephen Reid sreid@sgul.ac.uk

NHS Staff who are eligible for an OpenAthens account can register here: https://openathens.nice.org.uk/

For training or if you have any questions about access to DynaMed Plus please contact liaison@sgul.ac.uk

 

 

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.

Quick Look: NICE Guidance

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nice logo

Name: NICE Guidance

Publisher: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Devices:
Android: requires Android 4.0 and up.
iPhone/iPad: iOS 6.0 or later. App size: 5.8MB
*We tested this on an iPad*

Available from:      Google Play , iTunes and Windows

Price: Free

Type of information:  The app provides mobile access to NICE guidelines for healthcare professionals and students. The evidence-based guidelines offer current pathways for the diagnoses, prognosis and treatment of many health problems. There are hundreds of conditions and diseases covered, as well as different public health topics.

Main pros: 

  • Easy to use
  • Clean interface
  • Official guidelines from NICE
  • Handy mobile tool

Main cons:  

  • Text heavy
  • Limited personalisation features

The updated NICE Guidance app from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence offers on-the-move guidance for healthcare professionals and students. With over 760 topics and guidelines, as well as thousands of individual chapters, the app is text heavy. However, the in-app search box makes it easy to extract information quickly. The app also allows users to browse by topic and by guideline type.

The app is available through NICE and provides access to official NICE evidence-based guidelines which are used to keep health and social care professionals up-to-date on pathways in diagnosing and treating health problems. The information within the app is of a high-quality. Sections include clinical guidelines, cancer service guidelines and public health guidelines. One of the most beneficial features is the new and updated guidance section. New guidelines will automatically update on your device to keep you informed of any developments within healthcare guidelines.

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The app’s interface is uncluttered and easily navigable. You can also personalise the app, although these features are limited. Individual chapters can be bookmarked for use offline, which is useful for keeping track of specialist areas of interest. However, the text cannot be highlighted or annotated.

This app is a good aid for speedy and accurate guidance for the busy healthcare worker, but don’t expect more than what it says on the tin. Overall, the app is intuitive and easy to use and could be a handy mobile tool to have in your pocket!

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

Updated: Aug 2017

 

Book Review: The Brilliant & Forever by Kevin MacNeil

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A review of The Brilliant and Forever, written by Catriona Robertson, FHSCE Liaison Support Librarian

MacNeil is a wordsmith and the novel delights with beautifully written passages and moments of unexpected humour which bring to light the human condition.

After having read and loved another one of Kevin MacNeil’s books, The Stornoway Way, I was really excited to see that his new book, The Brilliant and Forever, was shortlisted for the KU Big Read and jumped at the chance to read it. I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

The Brilliant and Forever is set on a nameless island where humans and alpacas live unharmoniously side by side. There are lots of parallels that can be drawn between the island and the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, where MacNeil grew up. Anyone from a small town can surely empathise with some of the idiosyncrasies of island life.

The novel centres around an annual book festival held on the island called The Brilliant and Forever. The festival draws an eclectic crowd of locals and literary types from further afield, who hope to make a name for themselves in this remote and strange place. We see events unfold from the perspective of our nameless protagonist, who is best friends with Macy and Archie the alpaca. Our protagonist is a contemplative man who experiences moments of clarity and calm, particularly whilst cycling around the island. As the reader, you can’t help but share his love and endearment for his companions. Macy defies conventions and is full of kooky ideas and witticisms and the funny but anxious Archie is nobly leading a fight for alpaca rights. All three are aspiring writers taking part in the literary festival.

Within the book is a series of short stories which are all individual entries for the festival. Each of these stories are unique, fantastic, humorous and heart-breaking. Even in these individual tales, MacNeil’s voice comes through. There is an unbroken thread weaving the festival stories together with themes of empathy, identity, and loneliness emerging. MacNeil also brings together folklore traditions of storytelling and the modern world.

The island can be seen as a microcosm of our society. There are many divides on the island, from the rich whitehousers to the poorer blackhousers. Black houses are traditional houses from the Scottish Highlands and Islands, which were sometimes viewed as crude and inferior structures to the newer white houses. In the book, these houses represent the privileged and less privileged echelons of society. There is also divide between humans and alpacas. There are elements of segregation on the island, and alpacas are treated as second class citizens. Archie’s entry to the B&F festival is all the more remarkable as none of the judges are alpacas, and the publishers who hold power are all human. The privileged whitehousers have a veneer of respectability and civility but they struggle with perpetual unhappiness due to their materialistic culture. There are strong undercurrents of violence and an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality amongst the whitehousers.

As I read the book I found myself at times despairing and at times full of rage for the injustices Archie and others face in the novel. Ultimately, I felt uplifted by the examples of unlikely friendships and the vision of a fair and shared community for all. I’d definitely recommend this book. If you don’t enjoy it, in the words of Archie, “it’s a jazz thing you don’t get”.


Join the discussion. Tell us what you thought of The Brilliant & Forever, or what your favourite Big Read shortlisted book is. Come by the library to borrow a copy.

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Book Review: The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

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A review of The Penguin Lessons, written by Eduardo R. Garcia, Midwifery student

A foreign country in turmoil. An adventure. An unforgettable friendship.

The Penguin Lessons is a narrative told in first person by the author, Tom Michell, whose family members were distributed all over the world and inspired him with tales and stories about their discoveries, filling his imagination and making him familiar with these places. However, while this encouraged his adventurous spirit to take off, he was also moved by the desire to explore an unknown territory where his relatives had not been before, and hence why South America came as a perfect destination for his cause. Years later, during the 70s, an advertisement looking for staff in a Boarding School in Argentina would become his passage to his longed for adventure, fearless of the economic and political situation that whipped the country in the meantime.

What makes this personal journey especial is not only the wealth of insight into Argentina, its people and the description of a period that is long gone. The real core of the story is the friendship between Michell and Juan Salvador, or Juan Salvado: a penguin that our leading man rescued out of the jaws of death.

Michell’s action could have stayed as an anecdote in an otherwise more formal and serious narrative, however he decided to take the penguin under his arm and continue his travels, bringing Juan Salvado with him into the Boarding School, and making this the story of a lifetime. The bird, or the way that he is presented to us by Michell, makes us think of him as a character with his own personality and decision-making; he is a little fighter that serves as a main narrative thread, providing emotive and funny moments as this peculiar and almost fantastical relationship between bird and human develops.

Perfectly written, and unfolding wit and charm, Michell imagines the replies that Juan Salvado gives him through his eyes or actions, humanizing the character and making the readers understand his desire to protect the animal and why everyone around loves him, breaking the barriers that one could imagine as impregnable between a penguin and the human world. Because, at the end of the day, could a penguin belong with humans?

With the sensitivity of someone who has observed the damage that human actions could perpetrate in nature, the author inspires us to be considerate with the environment. Also, in reference to the title of the novel, Michell learns and demystifies knowledge and ideas about penguins, teaching us some tips in case, one day, we find ourselves in a similar situation and need to parent one of them.

Similar reads: Big Fish, Water for Elephants.


Join the discussion. Tell us what you thought of The Penguin Lessons, or what your favourite Big Read shortlisted book is. Come by the library to borrow a copy.

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Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

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A review of The Power, written by Beth Jackson, FMBS Liaison Support Librarian

This powerful, provocative tale of how power corrupts will leave you questioning not only the dystopian world of Roxy, Allie, Margot and Tunde but our own society too. ‘Shockingly’ good.

How different would our world be if women were the dominant gender, wielding physical power over men? This is the central theme running through The Power, which examines how society changes after teenage girls suddenly develop the ability to discharge electricity through their hands. They soon learn they are able to awaken the power in older women too, and before long the entire female population are able to control, hurt and kill their oppressors – in this case, men.

How the global chaos unfolds is told through the stories of four central characters. Roxy, the daughter of a gangster, is caught in a criminal underworld and desperate to avenge her mother’s murder. Margot, a low-level American politician who once bestowed the power exploits it for political gain. Allie, a runaway who escapes her abusive foster father and becomes the leader of the new revolution, amassing followers who believe in the supremacy of women. Finally Tunde, a Nigerian journalist whose viral video of a teenager discharging her power on a male harasser kick-starts what becomes known as the ‘Day of the Girls’.

We see how their stories converge over the years as the power mechanics shift and belief systems change. Alderman does not present a matriarchal utopia by any means and graphically depicts the cruelty women are capable of. This can make for tough reading at times, but what’s most unsettling is that many of the displays of violence she posits are gender-flipped examples of the brutality inflicted on women in the real world. Considering the difficult and complex topics in the novel, the violence doesn’t feel gratuitous and serves a broader purpose of highlighting stereotypes about gender and illustrates how power can corrupt anyone.

It might not be the gentlest read among KU Big Read shortlist, but it is certainly packed with action, suspense and plenty of provocative scenes which will keep you ruminating long after you’ve finished the book.

Notable mention: If you are a fan of Margaret Atwood (particularly The Handmaid’s Tale) you might be interested to know she mentored Alderman back in 2012 (they co-wrote a zombie serialisation together!). Her influence can be felt in the storytelling and the dystopian themes underpinning the novel.


Join the discussion. Tell us what you thought of The Power, or what your favourite Big Read shortlisted book is. Come by the library to borrow a copy.

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