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There’s an app for that

June 2012

Published in the June 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

YOU KNOW YOU ARE OLD if you remember the days when your clinical acumen was in direct proportion to the number of reference books you could stuff into a white lab coat. Today, of course, all that knowledge and more is found in one of my many apps. While I may otherwise be a Luddite, I readily admit that I love my apps and certainly don’t miss the days of hurriedly flipping through worn spiral bound books.

Being two clicks away from even the most obscure medical fact has in no small way changed the way we practice, and probably for the better. The challenge has shifted from the laborious task of becoming a human encyclopedia to the more nuanced skill of becoming someone who can integrate all this omnipresent information into the clinical picture unfolding in front of you. I can’t help but believe that we are better clinicians in this new age of medicine.

And although I no longer do attending rounds with students, I suspect it must be daunting to have them armed with the most current answer to everything. I used to bank on the fact that if I was wrong, the students would be too tired to be able to prove it. Today, I suspect I would feel like I was being deposed in a malpractice suit as they tapped on their phones to discredit my 1990’s knowledge. Or are they just texting a joke to each other at my expense?

But I have digressed into rare introspection, reminiscence and paranoia. So what apps does such an esteemed hospitalist such as myself recommend? Lets have some fun.

Angry Hospitalists App: Much like its “Angry Birds” namesake, the Angry Hospitalist is catapulted into the ER with the goal of trying to knock down as many admissions as possible in one toss. A great time-killer when I am trying to physically put off going to the ER and doing those three admissions.

Pregnancy Wheel App: Essential for any medical director of a large program. How will staffing be in six months? Wheel says: Four docs will be out “yikes!

Fruit Ninja App: Lets face it. Secretly, all of us medical docs envy the surgeons. How cool is it that they can actually do something? Even cooler is the fact that they do it with a knife. Fortunately, after five minutes of deftly dicing up fruit, the only thing I feel for surgeons is pity.

WebMD App: Love the symptom checker function. Put in cough, fever and shortness of breath, and it suggests you might have pneumonia. Who knew?

Facebook App: Nothing is better than defriending a cardiologist. And friending patients … can’t imagine that would lead to any problems.

Twitter App: If I have learned anything from athletes, politicians and celebrities, it is that this app is a recipe for regret and/or remorse. Yet it is so irresistible to have an app that means you are only 140 characters or less away from these emotions “and, as an added bonus, unemployment.

LinkedIn App: I am linked to all of the hospital’s senior administrators. Am I just trying to network, or am I shopping myself in hope of landing another job … perhaps the latter? Are they, more likely, hoping I find one?

YouTube App: Shout out to ZDoggMD. “Hard Doc’s Life (Hospitalist Anthem)” is the way I roll out of sign out every morning.

Open Table App: Yes, I am listening to you. Your head hurts and your belly aches, and I have some medicine for that, which should cure you. But, I have to add, I somehow just got a table at my favorite restaurant on a Friday night!

Nike + GPS App: Start on the second floor, code on the third, left my stethoscope on second, patient to stat discharge on the seventh, admission in the ER, family to meet on the third … you get the drill. My current PR is 24 miles in 12 hours. I believe that might even qualify me for the Boston Marathon.

Today’s Hospitalist App: To date, only in my dreams. I can only imagine how great it would be to always be only one tap away from all my blogs.

The Monster at the End of this Book App: Actually, this one is my son’s. Crucial for distracting him whenever perpetual motion is to be discouraged. Spoiler alert: Grover is the monster. I fall for it every time.

Erik DeLue, MD, MBA, is medical director of the hospitalist program at Virtua Memorial in Mt. Holly, N.J.