The maturing of the market
Six of the most popular MD apps
It was bound to happen. There is such a proliferation of medical apps out there with more launching online almost daily it’s hard to keep them straight — and that could be dangerous. Now a group of German physicians is calling for regulation in a paper titled Future trend medical apps: from the apps store directly into medical practice (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25388438).
Highlights of suggested areas in need of regulations include: errors in content that could lead to incorrect diagnosis, and treatment and risk patient outcomes; data privacy including unauthorized access to stored info and the need for assessment by physicians in connection with other new and existing apps.
Look for more such initiatives in 2015 likely beginning in the European Union, but also on the FDA’s radar in the near future. Health Canada is not expected to take up the matter before it’s clarified internationally. That said, a hierarchy of the most popular go-to apps has emerged that includes essentials for most electronic medical bags. No single list can be the be all and end all — but this one comes close.
All the applications listed here come in both iOS and Android versions, unless otherwise noted. Will new medical apps emerge in 2015? Absolutely, thousands of them, but the market is rapidly maturing and most are expected to be a refined version of existing apps or geared to specific specialties.
UpToDate Long a desktop favourite, if not the favourite — as long as your institution has a subscription, pricey otherwise. Lots of recent improvements including a mobile application make it the most popular go-to. Free.
Medscape Over 4000 clinical references including obscure diseases, up-to-date, easy to use. Downloadable for offline use. Free.
Figure 1 After a somewhat rocky start over privacy concerns, the Canadian developed “Instagram for doctors,” which allows the sharing of clinical photos, has come into its own. 800,000+ views a day and growing. Free.
Micromedex Drug Reference Essentials The top-rated Micromedex pharma/drug reference contains all Canadian and US brand-name products, but ran into trouble crashing on iOS 8. A December 14 update is said to have fixed it. $2.99 for iOS (formerly free); $3.28 for Android.
Eponyms Most extensive database of the bunch. Free.
Journal Club The best way to wade though the sea of evidence-based medicine. $4.99 for iOS; $5.65 for Android.
Honourable mentions: MediBabble Translator (free; iOS only); Epocrates (free); Diagnosaurus DDx (free on iOS, $1.99 on Android).
This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.