A dermpath app for your iPhone, iPad and more myDermPath (Minding Your Enterprise, LLC, Upper Saint Clair, PA 15241, USA): driven by the power of three (and 3G, usually)
Survey data as well as anecdotal experience suggest that the physicians in the United States are disproportionately fond of iPhones and iPads (compared with other smartphones and tablets) relative to the general population. This makes sense to me, since I first heard about this new educational ‘app’ (application software), myDermPath V 2.0, from an iPhone user who was also our Chief Resident, Ern Loh MD PhD (currently a dermpath fellow).
The myDermPath app was easily located and installed from iPhone's App Store. Each time myDermPath is accessed, the user must touch past two pages. The first page states that myDermPath is ‘your ultimate resource for dermatopathology’ ‘driven by the power of three’ (Drs. Rajendra Singh, Dirk Elston and Tammie Ferringer). The second page requests the mandated ‘accept’ of terms and conditions to proceed.
MyDermPath is organized into nine sections. These include a comprehensive diagnostic algorithm, ‘search by diagnosis’, reviews of ancillary studies (special stains, immunohistochemistry and direct immunofluorescence), a glossary of terms, a quiz and a video review of normal skin histology. Content is concise, accurate and clearly presented throughout, and includes descriptions of both clinical and histologic features. Color images are overall high quality, although the highest magnification is not nearly as good as that obtainable with current whole slide scans. For each disorder, there is a field where your own notes can be saved. Should you lose your orientation within the depths of the app, the ‘bread crumb’ function quickly displays how you arrived at your present location. Of note, an internet connection is required to view images. Using a broadband Wi-Fi connection, images typically appeared within seconds. Using the iPhone's 3G connection alone, images were sometimes unavailable or much slower to appear.
User support? myDermPath includes a feedback function. In addition, my e-mail to Dr. Singh regarding minor functional and content issues was promptly acknowledged and addressed. I also learned that an update and also an Android version are expected on September 2012. I did not test myDermPath on my son's 7-month-old iPad2, because it stated that a newer operating system was required.
What should not be expected from myDermPath? Experienced practicing dermatopathologists should not expect myDermPath to assist in their routine practice, at least beyond basic fact checking. The content of myDermPath seems centered upon a dermatology or pathology resident's target fund of knowledge, focusing on the very highest yield material, i.e. most essential features and most likely choices that will tend to ensure the correct answer on an exam, without emphasis or even recognition (beyond the initial disclaimer) of the innumerable exceptions to the ‘rules’ that govern the reality of case-by-case interpretations in daily practice.
In summary, myDermPath is a highly appealing, incomparably convenient, customizable and cost-effective (currently free) dermatopathology teaching tool that is appropriate for medical students, dermatology and pathology resident physicians and dermatopathology fellows. myDermPath represents the first of a new generation of app-based dermatopathology educational tools; another has already arrived; more are surely on the way. Apps such as myDermPath are perfectly positioned to be readily embraced by the tech-competent generation of young physicians in the early 21st century, as well as those responsible for training them.
(Tested on iPhone4s, June–July 2012).