What did doctors without smartphones do when they needed to retrieve information stat on the job? It must seem ridiculously archaic, and hopelessly inadequate, to today’s medical students and residents, that there was a time when those of us in training carried what we called our “peripheral brain.” It lived in the left pocket of our white coat, part source of information and part security blanket. Our peripheral brain was a 4” x 6” ring binder we started building the day we could finally call ourselves medical students. When we happened across pearls of wisdom, we wrote (by hand!) them down in our brain. It contained diagnostic algorithms, lists of differential diagnoses, normal lab values, formulas for calculating dosages, what to include in admission orders, mnemonics, and anything else for which we might need reminders or information. We could pull it out of our pocket at any time, for the information of the moment; it was especially useful on call. Losing or misplacing it constituted a medical emergency.
Now, there are iphones and androids, and literally thousands of great healthcare apps. They don’t have the same gestalt as the peripheral brain that grew up with us, but a whole lot more information, up to date in an instant. These are the “don’t do without it” apps to make your job a whole lot easier as a doctor.
1. UpToDate: the best medical app for clinical questions, and the most comprehensive app for primary care. Most academic medical centers have a subscription to which the users can connect to access the information. The price for an individual subscription – $495.00.
2. Epocrates: the “go-to” drug guide with the fastest, friendliest, and most comprehensive drug information – free for Epocrates Rx and $174.99 per year for Epocrates Essentials. The paid version includes clinical practice guidelines, in-depth disease content, information on alternative medications, and an infectious disease treatment guide.
3. Johns Hopkins ABX Guide: includes the treatment recommendations of the Infectious Disease Society of America. Physician reviewers feel that it is more elegant and efficient than the better-known Sanford Guide – $29.99.
4. Medical Calculator – QX Calculator: for a myriad of uses, most often used for pharmacokinetics – free.
5. Kidometer: for pediatric information, including developmental milestones, vaccines, lab values, nutrition, critical care information and more – $4.99.
6. OB Wheel: for calculating estimated gestational age and other uses in obstetrical care – free.
7. Brancel Guides: concise cards that make good, quick, teaching tools. For example, the appropriate responses in case of an obstetric emergency can quickly be reviewed while managing labor and the orthopedic guide is useful in acute injuries. The guides are good for communicating with consultants in proper terminology and more – $2.99 – $7.99.
8. ASCVD Risk Estimator: Released by the American College of Cardiology. This useful app was considered by many to be the best medical app released in the last year (2014-2015). It estimates the 10-year and lifetime risks for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease after you enter the patient’s gender, age, race, HDL, total cholesterol, systolic BP, diabetes status, smoker status, and whether they are being treated for hypertension. You can then click to see recommendations regarding lifestyle and treatment (including level of statin therapy) – free.
9. CORE: designed for use with musculoskeletal complaints, with detailed physical examination and special tests for each joint – $39.99.
10. VisualDx: rashes and other visible lesions not easily recognized, along with signs and symptoms, differential diagnoses, and treatments – $199.99.
You should check for app updates on a regular basis and prices often change. These apps are ideal for medical students and us Family Medicine Physicians who need a broad knowledge of all specialties. Most practicing doctors, however, will need to pick and choose among these top rated medical apps the ones that are most specific to your specialty and job requirements.
- iMedicalApps + MEDPAGE TODAY: The iMedicalApps Team, December 16, 2014
Faith A. Coleman MD is an award-winning, widely published journalist, writer, editor, Family Medicine Physician in Michigan, and Guest Writer for DoctorCPR.com: America’s #1 Website for Medical Jobs + Practice Resources