By Romayne Gallagher, MD
IAHPC App Reviewer
For those of us involved in palliative care long enough to remember EPERC, the End-of-Life Palliative Education Resource Centre, you may recall Fast Facts as one of its most enduring and practical resources. Started in 2000 as palliative care teaching aids, they were adopted as a standard feature of EPERC. Fast Facts are now hosted by the Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin and new content is still being added. Written and peer reviewed by subject experts, Fast Facts aim to be “one-page” reads that will give you a handle on the pertinent facts of the topic. There is a Core Curriculum that represents the essential articles for generalist palliative care knowledge as well as many other more specific topics. While designed for providers in the United States health care system, its information about diseases, general treatment, and communication are helpful for clinicians of any country.
Fast Facts joined the app world in 2014 and is offered on both the iOS and Android platforms. It is designed to work on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch but is a fair-sized download at 20.4 MB. The Android version is only 9.3 MB. It has been downloaded by more than 6,000 Apple users and 10,000 Android users, and users’ reviews describe it as a useful tool for review for various health care professions prior to exams. However, I see it as a useful refresher for those who have palliative care as only a part of their practice and need a review prior to seeing a patient or having a family meeting. The app is also useful for various levels of learners doing a rotation in palliative care. The app has a “random pick” feature that one could use rather than playing Candy Crush while waiting for a bus.
The app is simple to use and did not malfunction while I was using it. Its icon—the stereotypical hand holding a limp, presumably bedbound hand—is an image I think is a disservice to palliative care as active therapy for the living. The landing page is a list of all Fast Facts with a search function above it. This function is only available from this page and not throughout the app. Despite this drawback, the function is quite good: it highlights the search word in each article. You can bookmark articles to start your own collection of articles of most relevance to you.
Each of the 358 articles has pertinent and referenced content. Unfortunately, the version history of each topic is not given at the end of the article, as it is on the online site. There, each article prior to a 2015 peer review of all articles has a version history. Articles written since 2015 provide a publication date. The app’s About section, under the icon, indicates more content with a link to the online site, where there are further resources such as quizzes (some strictly US focused) and links to other resources.
Users will be annoyed that they cannot readily return to a previous article if they follow a link to another. However, this is just a small irritant in what is otherwise an excellent learning and teaching resource at your fingertips.
Editor’s note: Fact Facts are and have been an important resource for Pallipedia, IAHPC’s free online palliative care dictionary.