Read by QxMD

March 2018

General Practitioners

Country of origin: USA

There are a few ways to browse journal content. The landing screen is Featured Papers, which presents citations from your specialty and a mix of any journals, collections, and keywords you might follow. If you are not following specific journals, your featured papers are likely to pull from collections and recommended papers, which means they may be considered important by another Read user but could be out of date.

Read is a great way to stay current in your specialty’s literature. My Followed Journals displays citations from recent issues of the journals you select. Journals in your specialty are suggested, but you can easily add other titles as well at any time. I spot-checked 10 journal titles in a variety of disciplines and found that 9/10 were current. One was a month behind.

Under My Followed Collections, you can browse and follow public collections of citations. There are some recognized collections, such as JAMA’s “Rational Clinical Examination” series and New England Journal of Medicine’s “Images in Clinical Medicine.” Collections are created by QxMD and by other Read users. Examples include collections of key articles in a specialty or on a certain topic.

My Followed Keywords lets you create alerts based on keyword searches of PubMed but this function is only as good as the search. A keyword alert on “mobile”, for example, will have a lot of false hits. The options are very limited and a MeSH-based or thorough search is not possible within Read.

When you see an article you like, clicking on it pre-downloads the PDF so that you can view it with one action. This will work for freely available papers and for journals your library subscribes to, if you’ve included that information when registering.

You can annotate PDFs by highlighting, underlining, making notes, and even free-hand drawing. You can also post comments or rate the article with a thumbs up (helpful) or thumbs down (not helpful) and functionality for sharing papers on Facebook, Twitter and email are included as well. When looking at a paper, you can also view other Read users’ comments, if available

If you annotate a PDF, you have to save it. When you save papers, you are prompted to create a collection and collections can be either private or public. Public collections are visible to other Read users. You can classify the papers you save as being Landmark Research or an Outstanding Clinical Review. Presumably this will feed into Read’s algorithm for selecting Topic Reviews and Featured Papers.

Downloads are stored on your own device and clicking on Manage Downloads under Settings allows you to easily scan the ones you have saved and delete any you are no longer interested in.

On the Search page, Read declares that it “search[es] the entire medical literature” and provides “highly relevant results on page 1.” Instructions suggest filtering “by topics to find outstanding review articles” and that “[o]ur goal is to provide the best search experience for the medical literature. We refine results using dozens of signals and algorithms not found anywhere else.”

Claims of the best searching are hard to live up to, especially when that search delivers 3 year old articles on page 1. Presumably, the signals used by the search are the activity of Read users themselves. Search results from the same keywords vary on different days, likely because different articles have been recommended.

Settings can be customized at any time. Mostly this includes institutional affiliation (for full-text access), app layout and preferences such as automatic downloading of PDFs, turning on CME tracking, and managing downloads.

Evidence Behind the App
QxMD is merely a conduit for accessing information from medical journals. However, by suggesting articles in its Topic Review section, it runs the risk of promoting out-of-date or low quality evidence.

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