Robust and Affordable Medical Apps

Healthcare professionals have a brand new and very affordable “black bag” of medical resources in the form of the iPhone or iPod Touch and a wide variety of healthcare applications available for them on the iTunes App Store. Many of these programs are free or inexpensive, and a few are moderately priced. But one cool thing about them is that most do not require a direct link to a PC or Mac—all you need is a wireless connection to the Internet via Wi-Fi or the iPhone’s broadband data connection.
Below is a detailed look at two cool new apps, iChart EMR (available directly from the App Store) and the new Epocrates Essentials (a resident app downloadable using the devices’ Safari browser). I also mention an update to a third app, Skyscape, towards the end of the article. While these Apps are a bit pricier that some, they are well worth the investment for healthcare professionals using an iPhone or iPod touch.

Epocrates Essentials: Prescription and diagnostic support
Epocrates essentialsFollowing the introduction the popular Epocrates Rx free drug and formulary reference, Epocrates introduced its premium clinical decision support suite earlier this year. Epocrates diagnosticEpocrates Rx was downloaded by more than 50,000 physicians in the first four months. However, even with the availability of the free content, many Epocrates users were eagerly awaiting the launch of the premium features and content that was available only on Palm and Windows Mobile devices up to this point.
Building on the company’s top ranked free drug guide, the new Epocrates Essentials suite offers disease and diagnostic resources doctors need to answer pressing clinical questions. Developed exclusively for the iPhone platform, this premium product takes advantage of the touch-screen interface, and introduces new disease content, features and functionality. For access to this full suite of information, first purchase a one or two year subscription ($149 and $249 respectively) on the Epocrates Web site ( Then, locate Epocrates in the Apple App store and install it on your device. Once downloaded, Essentials will reside on your device and can be continually updated via a Wi-Fi or broadband data connection.
Epocrates Essentials offers disease and diagnostic resources to healthcare professionals (left/right above).
Included in the premium software solution:

  •  Information for more than 3,300 drugs that helps physicians prescribe the safest and most cost effective medication for their patients
  • Pill pictures to identify patient’s medications when they cannot recall the brand or dosing (e.g., round, blue pill)
  • Peer-reviewed disease content to support the diagnosis of patient’s symptoms
  • Infectious disease treatment guide to identify the appropriate therapy for a patient’s viral condition
  • Hundreds of diagnostic and laboratory tests that enable physicians to accurately interpretation the lab results and appropriate diagnose their patients
  • Information on more than 600 alternative medications so physicians can quickly check for interactions between herbal therapies and prescription medications, which can often cause harmful interactions or impact the drugs effects.
  • Medical calculators for quick access to commonly referenced formulas such as Body Mass Index, which the physician can do right at a patient’s bedside. 

What health care professionals are saying
“Epocrates Essentials for iPhone is an incredible time-saver, allowing me to quickly and easily access critical information right at a patient’s bedside. I love that the application takes advantage of the iPhone’s touch-screen interface, allowing me to easily and effortlessly gain access to the information I need most. Best of all, using Epocrates on the iPhone allows me the freedom to carry just one device with all of my important information and applications in one place.” (Travis Sherer, PA-C)
“This is a great time to be a physician with all the information available at the touch of a finger. Now that my iPhone is fully-loaded with the Epocrates Essentials software, I have everything I need to take care of my patients in the safest way possible.” (Dr. David Sperling)
A subscription service
Once again, Epocrates Essentials is a renewable subscription service, unlike the free basic Epocrates download from the App store. (Review in the last issue of iPhone Life magazine.) For more information visit the Epocrates Web site ( The Epocrates iPhone can be downloaded for free from the iTunes App Store.
Skyscape updated for 2009
MySkyscapeSkyscape is another app I use frequently on my iPhone. The free version is available on the App Store and includes Outlines in Clinical Medicine, Archimedes Medical Calculator, RxDrugs, and MedAlert. In addition to those, you can add over 300 subscription-based medical resources, which are available on the developer’s Web site ( All of these references can cross link to one another within the iPhone app. Their huge “crosslinkable” library continues to give Skyscape a unique place in the mobile healthcare content arena.
Skyscape also offers nursing-specific resources, including the recently released 21st Edition of Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary with audio pronunciation and Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses. Skyscape gives healthcare providers a link to real electronic medical textbooks and the tools they require for day to day practice.
Some of the Skyscape medical resources I keep on my iPhone
Many more apps to come
Medical apps installed on my iPhoneIf you glance at the two Home screen pages shown above, you quickly can understand why I call the iPhone and iPod touch aMedical apps installed on my iPhone “black bag” of resources for healthcare professionals. I’m a full time practicing OBGYN, and I need and use tools you see on these two pages. In fact, with so many apps in development, I’ll eventually be using many more Home screen pages for them. I hope that Apple increases the number of Home pages you can have (we are currently limited to ONLY 7)—the way things are going in the medical app field, I think I’m going to need them!

Some of the Skyscape medical resources I keep on my iPhone

Three iPhone apps to help medical professionals care for their patients and keep costs down
Spring 2009
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