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New app takes emergency medicine information mobile

Jan. 17, 2013, 8:42 AM

The new ‘Upshot’ app created by Vanderbilt’s Clay Smith, M.D., helps emergency care personnel keep up with new treatment techniques and the latest research. (image by Jeremy Teaford)

A Vanderbilt Emergency Medicine physician has created an application for smart phones and tablets to help emergency care providers stay on top of the latest research and newest treatment techniques.

The app, called “Upshot,” is the brainchild of Clay Smith, M.D., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. It is based on the popular YouTube videos and podcasts called “Keeping Up with Emergency Medicine.” After just one month on the market,

Upshot, which is free and available on both iTunes and the Google Play store, had 2,500 downloads.

“This is definitely a growing genre. All education, particularly medical education, is moving in the direction of delivering content in a mobile-friendly manner,” Smith said. “Medical students and residents are frequent users, but now mobile apps and mobile learning are mainstream. Everyone is using it as a serious learning tool,” Smith said.

Smith estimates he spends more than 10 hours a week organizing and producing the podcasts and app content. Volunteer physician “reviewers” help break down and present the information on camera, or in print. Most reviewers are Vanderbilt faculty, but others come from emergency departments all over the country.

Most topics covered on the Upshot app and Keeping Up podcast are literature review, but Smith is willing to take on nearly any interesting clinical topic. In one case he had an expert reviewing an app that can help doctors determine if sudden blindness stems from a physical or a psychological source, and in another, a specialist demonstrates an effective technique for fixing a dislocated shoulder.

More than 3,500 people have opted in to an email list for Keeping Up, and Smith expects the new app to increase the audience even further. There is no financial reimbursement for Smith or his reviewers. He says he is always on the lookout for experts who have a good sense of humor and can tackle articles and break them down into fun and easy-to-read summaries.

“Keeping Up and Upshot would be nothing without the dedication of these brilliant reviewers. I know the reason I do it is it forces me to keep up with Emergency Medicine literature. It makes me a better teacher for the residents. It has academic benefit as an innovative teaching method with national and international exposure, but most of all, I enjoy the creative outlet. It makes emergency medicine fun,” Smith said.

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