Development of an evidence-based medicine mobile application for the use in medical education
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BACKGROUND: Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is a methodology that is being incorporated into more medical school curricula. Boston University School of Medicine was one of early adopters of Evidence Based Medicine in the United States. A growing concern in the medical community was that the complexities of applying EBM might be lost when students enter into their clinical rotations, thus there is a need for development of a tool to help reinforce the EBM principles. METHODS: The research team in collaboration with the designers of the Finding Information Framework, a custom-made EBM finding information tool, worked to develop a mobile application to help reinforce the framework for medical students. The app was designed with both Apple and PC operating systems in mind. Key features that were identified from current literature to provide the most user-friendly mobile application. Thus, the research team specifically utilized iOS and Android platforms as both platforms have a centralized app store, possess the highest volume of medical apps available, and are most widely used in the United States by medical students. RESULTS: The Finding Information Framework was a custom-made tool developed to guide new users of EBM, and help them to apply the principles in practice. The mobile application served an added convenience by allowing easy access and fast utilization of the EBM tools. The app was designed on an Android platform first due to its open-source OS and ease in app development to new programmers. Initially, the user-friendly web-based tool, App Inventor (AI), powered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology was evaluated to program the pilot Android app. Using both the AI Component Designer and the Block Editor, several problems were encountered in AI, such as the simplicity of the program and the lack of freedom in design. This moved the project to create the app natively and with a collaborative effort with the BU's Global App Initiative club. Initially, a wireframe was built using Balsamiq. Subsequently, the Android app was built using Android SDK and the iOS app was built in XCode with Objective C; both platforms had design sections prepared in Sketch, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The last and final step was to obtain Boston University branding privileges for the app. CONCLUSION: The research team identified necessary features based on research to build a user-friendly, professional mobile application of an information mastery framework that can be used off-line. The app is called FIF as it is the title of the information mastery tool designed by BUSM EBM-VIG. With a clear mobile interface, it will be beneficial to the learning and training of medical students in EBM.