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Name: MedShr

 

MedShr logo - a white M inside a white hexagon against a dark blue background

Publisher: MedShr Ltd

Devices: iPhone, Android. Web version also available; we tested this app on an Android mobile phone.

Available from: Apple Store and Google Play.

Price: Free, but users must create an account linked to a professional or academic email address.

Type of information: MedShr enables medical professionals to share and discuss cases with each other.

For: Any medical student or professional.

  • Main pros – Easy to share knowledge with other medical students or professionals in a closed, semi-regulated network. International reach.
  • Main cons – Community is still quite small at present, some functions such as searching are not fully developed. The safety of patient data could potentially be an issue of concern.

This app is essentially a social networking platform that aims to enable knowledge sharing between medical students and professionals. Users create a personal account that must be linked to a professional or academic email address. This enables them to upload cases to share with others; most cases are accompanied by an image or video, as well as a short text description. Any audiovisual material that is anonymised (such as x-rays, radiology scans, ECGs) does not require any form of patient consent; however, if necessary, consent from the patient or their representative can either be obtained in writing and marked as such, or obtained directly through the app. The community of users can ‘flag’ any posts that they think may be inappropriate. It takes only a few minutes to create and share a case; tagging cases with an appropriate specialty or sub-specialty enables others to find it more easily.

Users can also comment on each others’ cases quickly and easily, and ‘follow’ cases to receive notifications of any updates. The homepage of the app shows a timeline of cases uploaded by other users, which can be filtered by specialty or sub-specialty; this could be slow to load at times, but overall worked effectively, and will be familiar in appearance to those who have used Instagram. Perhaps because the app only launched in 2015, some cases attract limited discussion, although this will hopefully change in the future as the community grows and develops. The search function is at present somewhat ineffective; filtering by specialty and sub-specialty is a more effective way of finding cases on a specific topic.

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The MedShr app also allows users to connect with other medical professionals, including staff and students at St George’s. As well as viewing other users and cases from their institution, users can also join interest groups on specific topics, such as ‘Blood Gases’ or ‘Echocardiography’, although the activity in these groups is variable.

However, although patient consent is easy to obtain using the app, unfortunately MedShr’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are not clear on how this information is handled. MedShr does not make clear how patient consent and its associated metadata is kept and stored, and which parties have a right to this information once it is uploaded (or, if MedShr is acquired by a third party). This is an issue of concern, given the sensitive nature of the information gathered. MedShr were contacted for comment in December 2015 but have not provided a response to date.

Overall the MedShr app is an interesting platform and one that shows plenty of promise. The community is still growing and this will probably be its biggest selling point for most users – as with any social media platform, a strong user base will determine its success. However, the safety of the patient consent information gathered through the app needs to be guaranteed.

All posts on this blog are subject to the SGUL Library’s guide to mobile resources disclaimer, please take the time to read it carefully.

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