App Review: drawMD

June 27, 2017

When it comes to drawMD, an app that allows clinicians to illustrate and modify medical images, the pictures do speak a thousand words.

Each month, physician reviewers will evaluatea particular app or category of apps that provide some functionality for medical practices and/or patients.

 

This month, tech-savvy doc Saroj Misra, MD, board-certified in family medicine, reviews UniversalDoctor Speaker, a medical translation app offering 13 languages.

Each month, physician reviewers will evaluatea particular app or category of apps that provide some functionality for medical practices and/or patients.

 

This month, tech-savvy doc Saroj Misra, MD, board-certified in family medicine, reviews UniversalDoctor Speaker, a medical translation app offering 13 languages.

Each month, physician reviewers will evaluatea particular app or category of apps that provide some functionality for medical practices and/or patients.

 

This month, tech-savvy doc Saroj Misra, MD, board-certified in family medicine, reviews UniversalDoctor Speaker, a medical translation app offering 13 languages.

Each month, physician reviewers will evaluatea particular app or category of apps that provide some functionality for medical practices and/or patients.

This month, Victor Abuel, MD and Saroj Misra, DO, review drawMD, an app that allows clinicians to illustrate and modify medical images for patients.

drawMD

By Dr. Victor Abuel

Rating

4 out of 5 stethoscopes

Pros: Ease of use; improves communication to patients; compatible with iOS/android; universal app (prior app was iPad only); can access from any web browser; free version is very functional

Cons: Numerous templates to sift through if not able to save favorites (subscription version only); requires login credentials; only portrait mode available in native app; f you want to get more, $9.99/month may be expensive

In my daily practice, I tend to use a number of medical-related apps. One that stands out as a tool for educating patients about their disease process is drawMD. Developed by Visible Health, Inc., a company which includes two surgical oncologists, the app appears very basic, but displays a lot of potential in clinical usage.

drawMD is defined in the iTunes App Store as, "a simple tool that allows clinicians to illustrate and modify medical images for the purpose of improving clinician/ patient communication." As physicians, we try to explain medical conditions and related procedures we may have to perform to the patient or their families in layperson terms. Despite this, you may notice that certain look ''indicates they are still  failing to understand. This is where I find this app handy,  as it provides clarity in communication.

Here's how:

First, you begin with a blank template.

From here, you can choose to write on the template or from a selection of stamps. Stamps can include illustrations of central lines, chest tubes, general anatomy, and some disease processes, such as a pneumothorax. The selectable stamps are germane to the organ system background of your choice. For example, the thorax will have separate choices versus the abdomen or the pelvis.

Most patients tend to be visual and can appreciate what we are now trying to explain regarding their visit when shown a picture. drawMD can enhance a patient's understanding of the reasoning behind a disease process and/or a specific procedure. For many of my encounters using this app, the patients appear more comfortable in signing a consent form, in addition to gaining better insight of their disease process.

There used to be at least a dozen different drawMD apps, but the developers have condensed all of these in to one universal app which contains content packs such as:

• Anesthesia & Critical Care (perfect for the ER)

• General Surgery

• Orthopedics

• Cardiology

• Pediatrics

• ENT

• OB/GYN

• Vascular

• Female Pelvic Surgery

• Thoracic Surgery

• Urology

• Ophthalmology

• Transplant Surgery

• Breast Health

• Family Practice

• Plastic Surgery

• Pulmonology

• Speech Language Pathology

Bottom Line

The application is accessible via iOS on the App Store or on Android devices through the Google Play store. There is even access via the web.  You can register for a free account.  The free version does provide the user to access to the complete drawMD library and allows you to create drawings from any of the templates.

There is also a subscription service for $9.99/month which provides you access to the entire library to create drawings from any template off any device (iOS, android, or the web), rather than just one device. In addition, you get the ability to have favorite templates and save presentations to the cloud. You also have the ability to share patient handouts via print or email.

I use this app daily in the ER to help explain things to my patients. It makes a complex idea easier for them to visualize and understand. I feel it is a great app for any physician of any specialty to have on their device. If you use this app, you too will feel that pictures really do speak a thousand words (or at least close to it).

The Primary Care Physician's Perspective

By Dr. Saroj Misra

Like Dr. Abuel, I found the app a very interesting approach to visually conveying anatomy, disease, and procedures to patients. The app uses a 'hybrid' approach that allows the use of professionally drawn background elements with overlaid 'stamps', but all

ows for free drawing/texting over these elements. This is MUCH better than trying to 'freehand' a drawing.

The features added with the paid account are good, but I suspect most will not find it worthwhile to shell out $120 annually for them. The app works well on phone, but the images get a little blurry when blown up on a 12.1" iPad Pro (everything is still visible enough for general usage, though). One challenge is that stamps may not always be clear what they are showing. The 'COPD' stamp, for example, shows an enlarged view of an alveoli and what appears to be a loss of alveolar walls, but it can be a little confusing at first. Pre-reviewing of the images provided would be a must for me.

The ability to create a 'presentation' is useful, as you can add labels and additional text, but this is not part of the free package. Be aware, too, images must be downloaded prior to use, which means you have to have an internet connection to get them (after downloaded, they are on the device locally until removed). Last, the images are flat 2-D images. This will be good for most descriptions to patients, but individuals looking for advanced zooming, anatomic breakdown and 3-D rotation will want to look at more robust (and expensive) programs. Overall, I share Victor's perspective - this is a simple, yet effective drawing package that makes it quick for almost any healthcare provider to describe common anatomy, diseases and procedures to patients and their families. At a price of 'free' for the basic package, I'd certainly recommend it to add to your device, as I have done.

Victor Abuel, MD is the Director of Emergency Medicine/Urgent Care at St John Medical Center in Macomb Township, Mich.

Saroj Misra, DOis a board-certified osteopathic family physician who has served as program director of the family medicine residency at St. John Health System in Warren, Mich.