CliniPEARLS: Mobile guidelines from the BC Health Ministry

A partnership between the British Columbia Health Ministry, the British Columbia Medical Association and the UBC eHealth Strategy office has produced a mobile clinical guidelines app, CliniPEARLS.

CliniPEARLS does one thing and does it pretty well: it provides clinicians with mobile access to the BC Guidelines and Protocols Committee (GPAC) guidelines. According to the home page, BC Cancer Agency guidelines are under development for addition as well. So though there is a relatively short list of guidelines available through the app right now, it is quite new (Blackberry version released 12/2009; iPhone, 3/2010) and more are on the way.

The app separates guidelines into their clinical specialties, and also presents an alphabetical list of guidelines for browsing. The structure an individual guideline is separated into many hierarchical pages (see screenshots below). This structure makes for more clicks (or pokes) than may be ideal, but it preserves the specificity of each topic page, and prevents a mobile user from getting lost in a long skinny page of text. One potential problem here is that the text, particularly the links, on these pages is quite small. This might not be a problem for the scrolling hand of a Blackberry, but requires deft aim with a thumb or index finger on an iPhone (which I used to test this out).

The search function has an intuitive interface, and will likely become more useful as the list of available guidelines grows. Additionally, you can bookmark frequently referenced guidelines and pages for quick access. A unique feature is that you can filter any of the guidelines “on” or “off,” which allows you to tailor the list of guidelines to your interest or specialty. Again as of now, filtering the list may not be necessary, but as more guidelines are added into the CliniPEARLS database, this feature will likely prove to be an excellent bit of foresight.

As the mobile marketplace continues to flood with medical applications from all variety of vendors, pharmaceutical companies and other (not-)for-profit entities, CliniPEARLS is a great example of how to enable clinicians to access localized and government-approved clinical information at the point-of-care.

CliniPEARLS is available for Blackberry, iPhone/iPod Touch, Palm and Windows Mobile. Instructions for signing up (an account is required to obtain the latest guideline updates) are available here.


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