App of the Month: Journal Club

Jul 25, 2016

Get immediate access to classic, practice-changing internal medicine literature including >260 landmark cardiology studies.

Creation of lists and summaries of important clinical trials is not a new endeavor. However, before the digital revolution, these compendiums were developed by clinical educators at local institutions and often wound up tucked in desk drawers. Mobile technologies now allow for distribution of these clinician educator-developed lists to users across the globe using a novel medical education smart phone platform - the Clinical Evidence Summary App (CESA).

Because CESAs curate, summarize, and present interpretations of influential clinical trials in the greater context of the medical literature, they address several needs in medical education. For example, if a learner is told to look up the AFFIRM trial, they may have a difficult time figuring out which one is the seminal publication. (Querying “AFFIRM trial” in PubMed will return the 2002 paper by Wyse and colleagues as the 251st result.) The solution: CESAs refer to trials by their colloquial name (eg, AFFIRM, PLATO, River’s Trial), and provide references to the original publication, so it’s easy to find the correct reference quickly.

Next, learners often want to know the “big trials” in a specific field but don’t know where to start. Because CESAs organize apps by disease process, the content can be presented as a “hit list” for in-depth reading. Furthermore, medical publications must be considered in context of prior and subsequent trials. Publications in medical journals are static while summaries on CESAs can be updated over time to address new medical knowledge that followed publication of influential trials, integrating important follow-up knowledge into seminal papers.

Journal Club is one such CESA that is powered by the collaborative website Wiki Journal Club (WJC, The Journal Club app focuses on “classic,” practice-changing internal medicine literature that medical students and residents are expected to know. Given the huge amount of cardiology literature, almost half of the >260 Journal Club summaries are cardiology-related; 3-4 new summaries are added each month.

Next: Bottom Line, Favorites


Individual entries are organized by specialty and diseases. A brief Bottom Line section gives the gestalt of the trial in a few short sentences and is followed by Major Points, which is a longer essay about the trial and how it fits in the medical literature preceding and following the trial’s publication. The remaining entry is abstracted information about design, interventions, baseline characteristics, and outcomes. Criticisms of the study are incorporated when relevant. At the very end of each entry are links to the trial’s PubMed listing and publishing journal’s website listing. Users can build their own reading lists with a favorites feature by starring articles of interest. There are also options to share summaries with colleagues through email.

For learners looking to take the “next step” and make contributions of their own to the app’s content, the collaborative Wiki platform of WJC allows anyone with an internet connection to create an account and write a summary. If it fits the scope of the Journal Club app and survives the editorial process, there is a good chance that it will be added to the CESA.

Journal Club is available for iOS and Android for $6.99

Disclosure: Dr. Plante runs the app Journal Club