300

We’ve just hit 300 calculators on our website (and iPhone and Android apps), and we thought it might be a good time for reflection.

By the Numbers:

  • The Los Angeles Motor Scale (LAMS) was our 300th calculator!
  • We’ve added over 120 calculators in the past year alone.
  • MDCalc has been around for 12 years.
  • We estimate that we’ve helped with over 15 million patient decisions across the world through our calculators and content in 2016.
  • We’re used in 210 countries.
  • Despite only having been prospectively validated in 2013, the HEART Score is already our 6th most popular calculator.
  • We receive about 5 new calculator requests per week.
  • We have 46 featured interviews with calculator creators that give insight into their thinking about their own scores.
  • We provide calculators for 50+ specialties.
  • We are used by at least 75% of US medical students in their clinical rotations.

 

On Calculators and Quality

We’re meticulous about the quality of calculators that make it onto MDCalc. There’s an ethical component to our calculator reviews: if we put it on MDCalc, users will use it. If it makes the cut, people will want to use it. (While we always do our best to review every calculator, they’re only estimates, and haven’t been tested in every population in the world. But for now, they seem like the best we’ve got in medicine.)

While 300 is an incredible number, there are at least twice as many that we haven chosen not to add. Quality is much more important than sheer quantity of calculators. What good is a calculator that was tested in 5 patients and only kinda sorta worked? Most journals and academics understand this; more and more, decision aids are being published not just with a score derivation, but also an external validation. They understand that people expect to see that their score can be applied to multiple populations.

 

On Discovery

With so many calculators, it becomes difficult to know which to apply and when. We’ve built a Discovery search engine, which allows you to discover which calculators will help you with the necessary clinical decision making. The increased number of scores also makes navigation difficult — no longer can you easily use an A-Z list!

Fortunately, we’ve built a few solutions:

  • Making an account (it’s free!) allows you to save favorites, view your specialty’s calculators in its own list, and view all calculators you’ve recently used. (As an added bonus, this data syncs seamlessly with our iPhone and Android apps.)
  • Our robust search options make it easy to find a calculator by name. We also include smart abbreviations — type ‘acs‘ and you’ll get a list of calculators about acute coronary syndrome, even if ‘acs’ isn’t in their name.
  • You can also now discover new calculators by disease, chief complaint, organ system, or function. For example, if you want to see calculators that help you predict prognosis of a patient with a pulmonary embolism, you can add tags for Pulmonary Embolism and Prognosis. Or you can look at diagnosing patients with a head injury. The options are endless.
  • We’d also like to feature calculators here as another way of letting people know about a new tool that may help their daily practice.

 

On User Involvement

People always ask us, “how can I help?” It’s really wonderful to hear positive feedback from users — and we love your help in making MDCalc even better.

  • We’re always excited to hear about new scores, algorithms, and decision aids that you’re reading about, using, or even publishing yourself! Please let us know by writing to us at our Contact page.
  • Sign up to be a beta tester, testing out new versions and features from our website and apps.
  • Are you an academic physician interested in writing? Our Contributors provide valuable advice about the scores— in fact, some of the newer scores specifically ask for user contributions for our content. Apply here.
  • Finally, we’re considering building additional tools to help users with complex calculators and more. Have an idea that would help you take better care of patients? Help us help you!

 

sidebarOn Calc Ratings

Speaking of user contributions and content, we’re currently developing a system to provide calculator ratings. This would be a quick way for a user to get a sense of “how good is this calculator I’m seeing?” (Good, of course, has a lot of meanings, so we’re planning on rating calculators on evidence, clinical utility, and popularity.) We’re also developing a user rating system, so that users can give us their own opinion on the calculator.

 

On the Future

New calculators, decision aids, and scores should be more confusing, not less. When scores like Wells’ Criteria or TIMI or Ranson’s Criteria were developed, they were made for a computer-less, smartphone-less age. It’s not just sheer luck that these criteria have 1 point or 2 points and are memorizable — they were created this way so that humans could handle their math. The downside, of course, is that by simplifying the math, you also simplify the ability to risk stratify, give better risk estimates, and prognose better for the individual patient sitting in front of you. Newer scores should assume that a computer will be available to help the physician — through MDCalc or even just a calculator on your smartphone — so that we move away from “points” and move to more complex models that give better data and estimates, at the expense of simplicity.

300 down, and many more to go. Thanks for joining us along the way!