UPDATE 4/29/2017: This post has been updated with additional apps and commentary based on some great suggestions and feedback in the comments.
Increasingly, everyone, including doctors, is living in a mobile world.
As “mHealth” becomes more popular and patients adopt health tracking apps and fitness measuring wearables such as Fitbits, savvy physicians know they will get a lot of benefits from using mobile health apps in their practices.
The market for mHealth will reach $21.5 billion globally by 2018, according to estimates from market research firm BCC Research. The category includes everything from your calorie counter website to telemedicine apps that let you video chat and text with your doctor.
However, only 15% of mHealth apps are even marketed to doctors, so how do you sift through all the patient and fitness-centered apps to find ones that may actually be helpful in a clinical setting?
Luckily, I’ve already done the legwork for you. Below is a list of the best medical apps, based on reviews and number of downloads, for doctors and physicians, specifically.
This is the gold standard of medical apps. Available for both iOS and Android, and with millions of downloads across the country, doctors are using this app to look up drug information and interactions, find other providers for consults and referrals, and quickly calculate patient measurements like BMI.
While the app itself and most of its content is free, access to additional information and functionality (like lab guides, alternative medications, and disease information) requires an in-app purchase of Epocrates Essentials for $159.99 a year.
PEPID is a frequently updated clinical decision-support reference app targeted toward emergency room physicians, but it can be useful to nurses, students, residents, pharmacists, EMTs, and paramedics. With it, you can earn Continuing Medical Education Credits while actually treating patients.
Users must log into PEPID the first time they use it on their phones, but never again after that. PEPID automatically uploads all notes to the cloud. Symptom Checker helps you diagnose faster by suggesting possible ailments based on your patient’s symptoms, physical exam findings, and lab results. A filtered checker alerts you to possible multidrug interactions, all on one page, and offers dosing suggestions.
PEPID offers profiles of diseases, medical conditions, and treatment options with research from the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Family Physicians Inquiries Network.
Brush up on your skills with the hundreds of reference videos for clinical procedures and physical examinations. Push notifications keep you up-to-date on new research, drug approvals, and black box warnings.
Another heavy hitter, the UpToDate app can be downloaded for both iOS and Android devices. Hundreds of thousands of physicians have installed this app, and for good reason. It is chock full of medical knowledge that allows it to answer clinical questions at the point of need.
However, it’s also not cheap. While downloading the app is free, in order to actually access the wealth of information contained within it, you or your organization needs to have a subscription to the UpToDate database. This starts at $499 a year for an individual physician.
This is the official app for the social network for doctors. Doximity claims 40% of U.S. Physicians are members (joining is free) and this app allows you to access the network on-the-go. With both iOS and Android versions, you can find and communicate with other doctors on the network, send HIPAA-secure faxes through your phone, and follow news and trends in your specialty.
The app is free to download, but does require you to sign up for membership in the network (again, free).
5. Read by QxMD
Read is an app for both iOS and Android that centralizes all your medical literature and journals. Using a magazine format, it allows you to read and download studies, journals, and articles from a host of sources including open access journals, Pubmed, and papers from linked institutions.
With tens of thousands of installs, and plenty of free content this is a no-brainer for physicians looking to keep current in their specialty. The app is free, but some journals and Pubmed may require an institutional or individual subscription or credentials.
Access recent articles, view images of medical conditions, and listen to audio and video summaries of articles with this app from the trusted New England Journal of Medicine. Available only for iOS devices, this app also includes videos of medical procedures, and reports on recent research findings.
This app is totally free to download and access.
Isabel is a diagnosis assistance app for iOS and Android. With its results validated by studies which have been peer reviewed in dozens of different medical journals, this app is a solid way for any physician to double check their diagnoses. Isabel’s database includes over 6,000 disease presentations and symptoms, and the ability to refine results by age, gender, and travel history.
This app does require online access, however, and while the app itself is free, in order to use any of its functionality and data you need to purchase a monthly subscription of $10.99, or an annual one of $119.99 per year.
8. Figure 1
View and share medical images with other physicians using this free iOS and Android app. Hundreds of thousands of users send, comment on, and search through medical images in Figure 1’s visual database. This app is perfect for physicians looking for feedback on a rare condition, or seeking to see and learn about rare or textbook cases. Additionally, the app guarantees patient privacy with automatic face-blocking and removal of identifying information.
This app is free to download and use.
In both iOS and Android flavors, this app brings the powerful DynaMed reference database to mobile. Subscribers to DynaMed ($395 a year for an individual physician) will get the full functionality of the decision support tool on their smartphone or another device.
Functionality includes disease references, point of care information, and summaries of over 3,400 different topics, with constant updates as DynaMed’s team looks over new studies and evidence to add to the database.
This app, by WebMD, is another great medical reference tool offered on iOS and Android. The app is completely free, but does require you to register for a free account (which you can do through the app itself) to use it. Once done, you can look up medications and drugs, check the disease reference tool, catch up on medical news, and much more.
A free, mobile-based EMR, this app is accessible through iOS and Android devices, as well as online. Both the app and service are free, though you can upgrade to a premium version with advanced features like a patient portal and custom domain. However, the free version offers a great avenue to communicate with patients outside the office, and includes video chat, remote patient monitoring, and the ability to answer typed patient questions.
What apps do you use?
Have any favorite medical apps you just can’t do without in your office? Add them in the comments below!
Looking for Electronic Medical Records software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Electronic Medical Records software solutions.