From The Editor | January 28, 2010

Powerful iPhone Apps For Physicians

The Potential Cost Of A Medical Device Tax

By Ken Congdon, Editor In Chief, Health IT Outcomes

Smartphones (e.g. Blackberrys, iPhones, Droids, etc.) have become a common tool of the trade in healthcare — not only among IT professionals and hospital executives, but physicians as well. In fact, last week we polled our newsletter audience on smartphone usage and discovered that 43% of our readers currently leverage a smartphone in their day-to-day business operations. Of the 57% that did not, 43% were seriously considering purchasing a smartphone to become more efficient in their work.

The growing popularity of the iPhone has also changed the way smartphones are used as a business resource. The emergence of the iTunes App Store has allowed the iPhone to serve as much more than a mobile device that allows you to receive phone calls, check email, schedule appointments, or surf the web on the go. With an App Store (a concept that has also been adopted by Blackberry, Google, Microsoft, and others) smartphone owners can download countless applications that transform their phones into pseudo mobile computers.

Smartphone applications are available in a variety of categories, including news, sports, games, entertainment, and of course, medical applications. The iTunes App Store, in particular, consists of more than 1,800 medical applications. Many of these applications are more entertainment-based in nature (e.g. a fake Swine-Flu meter intended to trick your friends into thinking they have H1N1, an app that claims to predict the consistency and shape of your next bowel movement, etc.). Other medical applications are aimed more at patients (e.g. fertility tracking applications, weight loss applications, etc.). However, there are several iTunes medical applications aimed at physicians that can prove very valuable at performing tasks at the point of care or making crucial decisions while on the move. The following are a select few of these applications that I found particularly interesting. Please be aware, I have not tested these applications and am in no way endorsing them. My only aim is to provide our readers with a short list of the physician-focused medical applications that are available. Read the reviews of each application on iTunes and be your own judge as to whether these applications can help you.

  • Epocrates — This is among the most popular medical application downloads on iTunes. Epocrates provides physicians with comprehensive drug reference at the point of care. With this application, physicians can access information on thousands of drugs including dosing, adverse reactions, formularies, pricing, and pill pictures. Physicians can also use the app to check for drug interactions for up to 30 drugs at a time and identify pills by their physical characteristics and imprint code. (Free download)
  • iPharmacy — Another drug reference application that provides physicians with the most commonly prescribed drugs for specific conditions. ($0.99 download)
  • Diagnosaurus DDX & STATworkUP — Both of these applications are designed to provide physicians with mobile diagnosis support. Diagnosaurus DDX helps healthcare professionals perform differential diagnosis at the point of care by allowing you to search over 1,000 diagnoses by organ system, symptom, or disease. STATworkUP contains a collection of evidence-based facts and associations that can help guide problem assessments. It allows physicians to quickly correlate symptoms and signs from a wide array of associated diagnoses and integrates their appropriate studies and treatments. Diagnosaurus DDX ($0.99 download) STATworkUP ($24.99 download)
  • VisualDX — VisualDX is another diagnostic support application for dermatological and other visual conditions. It allows physicians to validate patient conditions by providing multiple images of skin disorders common to various diseases. The application also provides next steps for treatment and patient care. (Free download)
  • ER-ICU Calculator — This application allows physicians to compute ER-ICU calculations on the fly. It includes calculators for Apgar score, Basal energy expenditure, MELD score, oxygenation index, PERC rule, TIMI risk scores, and many more. ($0.99 download)
  • Clinical Trials — Clinical Trials provides mobile access to information on more than 78,000 registered clinical trials from the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health database. ($0.99 download)
  • DictateOnTheGo & myDictation Pro — Both of these applications are designed to transform your iPhone into a mobile dictation system that allows you to record patient notes and upload them wirelessly to a transcriptionist. DictateOnTheGo (Free download) myDictation Pro (Free download)
  • Allscripts Remote & EMR Mobile — If your healthcare facility leverages an Allscripts EMR (electronic medical record) system, Allscripts Remote provides your physicians with remote access to Allscripts EMR and Practice Management Software via the iPhone. EMR Mobile provides the same capabilities to healthcare facilities that leverage an eClinicalWorks EMR and practice management system. Allscripts Remote (Free download) EMR Mobile (Free download)

Ken Congdon is Editor In Chief of Health IT Outcomes. He can be reached at