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content into a single app it aims to be faster, easier to use and access than the previous apps which will both be withdrawn later this year, users of the old apps will see a banner notifying them of this nearer the time.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