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AMBOSS: A System to Support Differential Diagnosis
Despite how quickly doctors may diagnose a disease on television shows, real life diagnosis is a little more difficult. Is that runny nose caused by allergies or is it a seasonal cold? Are your patient’s headaches because of stress or migraines?
When you are debating between two diseases, it’s referred to as a differential diagnosis. Every doctor runs into this issue and until now, the easiest option to figure it out was to consult with another healthcare worker. However, there’s another way. Read on for a review of the AMBOSS system for diagnoses.
Why a Diagnosis Can Be Difficult
In an ideal world, a patient would come in with a specific list of each and every one of their symptoms so you could easily scan it and see just what the problem is. In reality, that virtually never happens. Instead, you’re stuck with a handful of symptoms, a long story about their grandmother’s bad knee and then a few more symptoms sprinkled throughout.
Trying to collect all that information and put it into a meaningful diagnosis can be difficult and every clinician has found themselves confused at some point.
Besides poor patient history, there may be more than one health issue being muddled into one. Your patient may mention that they’ve had diarrhea for several days, along with gallbladder pain and nausea, which could end up being a gallbladder issue or a gallbladder issue and a stomach virus. Separating the two is your job as a doctor, but it certainly isn’t easy!
Finally, if your patient has vague symptoms, this can also make it very difficult to diagnose them. Fatigue, lack of appetite, poor sleep and fevers can be attributed to multiple things and if the tests are not definitive, you may find yourself stumped as to what the actual problem could be.
What Is AMBOSS?
No one can be expected to keep all possible health issues in their head and sometimes, you just won’t remember that all important question that could determine the actual diagnosis. If you’re a busy clinician, you may not have time to consult with someone else, so AMBOSS is the perfect solution. This app guides you toward the right diagnosis by providing helpful questions and suggestions to get you on the right path.
According to the company, AMBOSS provides more than 35,000 physicians with clinical decision support.
How AMBOSS Works
The AMBOSS app allows you to input the information you have on your patient and then prompts you to ask certain questions to narrow down the results. However, it has a lot more to offer, including:
Scannable Etiologies: These provide you with the necessary information in bullet point you can easily scan and determine if they apply to your patient or not. You can quickly look for any condition and then work through the possible differential diagnosis and eliminate anything that is not the case, then check the others.
Question Sessions: Each condition offers a question session option so you can work through the questions to determine if the diagnosis fits your patient or not. If you’re really stuck, this is a good way to make a diagnosis.
Checklists: Do you tend to forget what you should be checking? A checklist will help you stay on track and you can add in extra options, like medications and exams you need done. These checklists are pre-compiled based on some of the most common conditions found in hospitals today. You can easily tick each step off as you complete it. These checklists are available under the respective disease or condition.
Interlinked Articles: There are multiple articles linked so you can quickly check alternative diseases and their processes. This ensures you get the right diagnosis and treatment every time.
Drug Dosing: Once you’ve made your diagnosis, you’ll need to prescribe the treatment. Every dosage and frequency depends on the patient and the actual diagnosis, so it can get confusing. To ensure you don’t have any issues with giving the wrong dosage or with using the incorrect timing, AMBOSS includes treatment protocols in each disease section, along with specific interactions that you should watch for. You’ll never mix up a dosage again. This section is updated on a regular basis.
Emergency Protocols: For med students or doctors who have been working in a specific area for a while, recalling emergency protocols can be hard. The app includes everything you need so you can pull it up wherever you are and rapidly assess any emergency situation using the ABCDE approach.
The app also provides you with one-minute snippets of news so you can stay on top of the newest studies without spending too much time reading them. You get instant news and can continue to investigate if you feel it’s necessary thanks to the many links provided.
Overall, AMBOSS provides quite a few choices for you to ensure your patient gets the best care.
Pros and Cons of AMBOSS
There are pros and cons to everything in life, and this app is no exception. As you’ve seen in this AMBOSS review, it can be very useful in guiding you toward the right diagnosis, but it has much more than just disease descriptions. It’s very easy to use, with all the information you need right there, including treatment options, possible complications and drug interactions, questions and checklists to keep you on topic.
There aren’t many cons, as this is a great app that everyone seems to like. The only issue may be the in-depth complexity which can take some time to go through if you want to learn more about a disease.
Is AMBOSS Worth It?
If you’re a busy clinician or a medical student who needs a boost, this app is definitely a useful app to have. You can use it anywhere you are, whether you’re in an office, the streets, or a hospital and it will keep you on track.