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Nowadays, it seems like there is an app for everything. There are apps for social media, apps for games, apps for business, apps for music, and even apps that do absolutely nothing (I know, I checked). With the medical field’s constant progress and increasing dependence on technology, it makes sense that there are many apps related to medicine and healthcare as well, most of which are designed for the general public (e.g. WebMD, Medscape, Epocrates, etc.). However, new apps have been developed to help doctors and health professionals as well.

With dangerous antibiotic prescribing practices becoming a widespread issue, several doctors in Southampton came together to develop an app specifically designed to promote careful antibiotic prescription methods and offer alternative treatments for patients with antibiotic-resistant infections.

Their app, called MicroGuide, was launched in July 2011 and was the first of its kind in the UK. Ever since its introduction and use in the medical field, there have been major decreases in both prescription of high-risk broad-spectrum antibiotics (falling from 40% to 28%) as well as in Clostridium difficile infections (going from about 60 a month to less than 10 a month).

Clostridium difficile infection—often referred to as C. diff—is an infection of the intestinal system caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile. The infection is usually associated with the use of antibiotics that kill off enough good bacteria in an individual’s gut to allow the C. diff bacterium to grow out of control and cause the infection.

Dr. Kieran Hand, a specialist in anti-infective pharmaceuticals, stated that MicroGuide acts as an “interactive library of microbiology expertise”. The app aids doctors in many facets of the treatment and prescription process, including proper dosing suggestions, risk factors, penicillin allergy warnings, alternative treatments, and more.

With over 75,000 users, MicroGuide has now been licensed to over 30 different NHS hospital trusts, and it won the Infection Control Prize at the annual NHS Innovation Challenge Awards. With the staggering amounts of antibiotics being prescribed for simple ailments and mild infections, it is easy to see why antibiotic resistant bacteria are more prevalent in the world. MicroGuide has shown the importance of both the impact of technology on healthcare and the importance of safe and appropriate prescription of antibiotics.

MicroGuide (developed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Kieran Hand, Dr. Adriana Basarab, Dr. Ann Pallett, Dr. Sanjay Patel, and Professor Saul Faust) is free to download for both Apple and Android smartphones.

Feature Image Source: ios apps by Clive Darra

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