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23.06.10 | Medical Apps For The iPhone/iPod Touch That I Use
Filed under: Computer, Medicine — Tags: , , , — Dr. Ivan @ 18:54 — Comments (3)

My iPod Touch has become my trusty companion with which I am very reluctant to ever part. It is very handy to have on long flight for reading, a brief puzzle game and music, or a movie. Furthermore I have found it to be indispensable at work and is now one of the absolutely mandatory tools I carry on my rounds and take to lectures. I have outlined some of the medical apps I use on a regular basis. Please note however, that being a student I am not able to afford any of the expensive apps, so those have therefore not been tested or included.

  • Merck Manual: Professional Edition. ($29.99) A digital adaptation of the massive and well reputed Merck Manual which on paper spans some 3000 pages. Covers most medical subjects, including internal medicine, dermatology, hematology, some brief surgery topics as well as many others. Perhaps the best feature is an included list of different symptoms and a thorough work up description. Note that this is an American reference, which can be to your advantage or not – depending on where you live. If you live outside the US (like I do), epidemiological data as well as some treatment guidelines might differ significantly in comparison to your national recommendations. If you live in Europe, Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine (which is British; see below) might be a better choice. Nonetheless the general description of the diseases are invaluable, no matter what country you live in. Unfortunately Merck misses many illustrations and some simply appear to be broken displaying just a small rectangle with a question mark. Some other bugs do exist, for example leaving a blank space at the end of a search term will crash the app upon entering a search item. Also, some search items (f.ex. AIDS) are empty and not linked to any article. Hopefully these problems will be sorted out in a bug fix release. Also, be aware that the Manual is available in full for free online with all illustrations. There is additionally a “Home Edition” available on iTunes, with a slightly smaller price tag and contents adopted to the aforementioned audiences.
  • Oxford Handbook Of Clinical Medicine, 8th Edition. (34.99£ ~ $52) I am very fond of this handbook. It is basically written in lecture note format, and is thus very concise. It covers most of internal medicine, hematology, some surgery and a few emergency topics. It is very richly illustrated and contains a number of tables. Unfortunately there are a number of bugs also in this app. Navigating forward and backwards for some unknown reasons sometimes skips pages you have viewed. Furthermore, organization of articles is somewhat unstructured and a huge number of “go to”-links lead to the wrong topic. OHCM complements Merck Manual nicely, I will however give this only a cautious recommendation, mostly because of the gratuitous price.
  • Differential Diagnosis by BMJ. (4.99£ ~ $7.42) An ingenious little app which lists differential diagnoses for many common diseases and conditions. Includes brief descriptions of the differentials as well as illustrations for some of the conditions. The disease index is searchable and you are given an option to compare diseases of your own choosing. Quality on par with what we have come to expect from BMJ.
  • MedRef. ($0.99) Very good reference of all laboratory test values. Lets you switch between SI and US units.
  • Lab Tests. ($5.99) Likewise a reference of laboratory tests. A much smaller subset of tests, but does describe in detail each of the tests and its clinical implications. A small picture of the test tube cap used for the specific test is displayed.
  • iMurmor. ($2.99; currently taken down from iTunes Store?) Lets you listen to a number of high quality heart sounds. Makes it easy to switch between the given murmur and a normal heart sound. Implements a graphical visualization of each murmur and gives a brief description of the sound, location of punctum maximum, radiation and associated pathologies. Includes a quiz feature. Should be used with headphones.
  • ECG Guide. ($0.99) Contains a large number of ECG strips. Very good for testing your ECG skills.

Finally some very handy document readers for all the books/pamphlets/notes you have store in various formats:

  • iSilo. ($9.99) iSilo and Palm Doc viewer for iPhone and Touch. This is an app with a wealth of useful and advanced features and settings. The price tag despite this in utter disproportion to the contents, given that GoodReader is free (but unfortunately does not read iSilo-s or Palm Doc-s).
  • GoodReader. (free) THE document viewer. Handles pretty much everything from PDF-s to PowerPoint files. Files can be transfered directly from internet or uploaded from your computer. After uploading or downloading you can organize your books into folders, easily move and delete them. Large files (especially PDF-s) are handled exceptionally well without slowdown: I have even tested 300-400MB files and did not encounter any delays, loading times or lag. Rendering speeds in general are unlike anything I have seen on a handheld device. There is absolutely no lag when scrolling through a page and practically no waiting for the pages to load. A perhaps less useful feature is the ability to extract plain text from PDF files, still if you should need it – it’s there. Despite all the features the user interface is easy to use, simple and clean. A much recommended app.

I hope you found some of the apps mentioned above useful. In any case, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

edit: These medical apps are a major reason why I bought an iPod in the first place. However, it seems like Android users aren’t left out in the cold either. Just take a look at this impressive list of apps recently sent to me by the electronic health record blogger Chris Thorman. Although for the time being I am quite happy with my iPod Touch, I do really hope that the development will continue in parallel for these two platforms. In the long term the hope is of course that this will both foster healthy competition between the platforms and publishers as well as promote the new ways medical professionals can access the information they need when they need it – ultimately resulting in increased quality of care for the patients.

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  1. avatar

    it was very interesting to read.
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

    Comment by guanchzhou — 18/07/2010 @ 21:58

  2. avatar

    @guanchzhou: Sure you can. My twitter account is http://twitter.com/Dr_Ivan :)

    Comment by Dr. Ivan — 20/07/2010 @ 22:49

  3. avatar

    Thanks for posting this informative post. I like the content because its very easy to understand. And the topic captures my attention. Keep on posting like this and more power!

    Comment by Phillip Mooris — 28/04/2011 @ 05:40

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