I received an email in response to last month's column. The sender noted that he is using ePocrates® on his iPhone™, which got me looking. It turns out, I shouldn't have stopped at the Health and Fitness category, as there is, in fact, a Medical category that has a number of applications that might be of benefit to a practicing physician or a researcher. As with all other categories, there are a large number of items that can be purchased or are free. Some of the free items are versions of applications that are for sale but have less functionality. In some cases, it appears that the application is identical.
One such item is MedCalc, which is an iPhone version of one of my favorite medical calculators. It was developed by the same people who created the Palm® and Windows® Mobile versions. On their website, they state that their desire is to provide quality, free medical software. The 99 cent version appears to be their calculator marketed by a third party. The third party website does not mention who developed the calculator, but the list of formulae is identical. MedCalc has been entirely rewritten for the iPhone/iPod Touch and thus has a very user-friendly interface. They have added a number of equations, so the total is now just over 100. As noted, ePocrates is available for the iPhone/iPod Touch. The downloadable version is free, but it lacks over-the-counter medications and some complementary and alternative drugs. However, you can add these at the ePocrates website by upgrading to the professional version for $99 a year or ePocrates essential for $159 a year.
Unbound Medicine's Diagnosaurus is available for 99 cents. My correspondent mentioned adding a stethoscope head microphone to his device and recording lung sounds. There is another application for 99 cents that apparently uses the iPhone microphone to pick up heart sounds. It seems unlikely this would work well but it is an option.
There are a number of applications, both free and for a few dollars, that perform PubMed searches and allow you to save references and information about them on your device. NextBio™ provides an innovative platform allowing life science researchers to search, discover and share knowledge locked within public and proprietary data. There is a version of this for the iPhone and it is currently free. A version of WebMD®'s Medscape designed for professional use is available. This is also a free application. ReachMD™ is a communications company that broadcasts CME on XM radio channel 160. They have a web interface for this that allows you to choose topics. They claim to provide compelling information to the healthcare community in the most convenient formats. There is now a version that runs on the iPhone/iPod Touch. The iPhone application is an easy-to-use and fully accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) tool that gives healthcare practitioners a convenient way to earn free CME credits. Once again, this is a free application. The medical library has a number of other applications that appear promising. I am interested in any experiences that anyone is willing to share.
We are in the process of renaming this column since Palm Tips is not really appropriate any longer. Something with Mobile in the name seems reasonable but I am seeking suggestions. Feel free to send a potential name.