Palm and Windows portable devices are a mainstay in the medical field. Can the iPhone penetrate this market? Epocrates is a classic PDA mobile drug guide that is frequently used today by health care providers. This is a review of the iPhone/iTouch version.
One of the first applications that a physician or medicial student typically installs on his/her portable device is epocrates. This continously updated drug database software has replaced those huge PDA tombs for drug information.
The software has been available for Palm, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry for sometime. Now, epocrates has been released for the iPhone/iTouch platform.
The biggest pain with epocrates has always been establishing an account. The application will drop the user to the epocrates web site to establish registration. Much of the information attempts to confirm that the user is in the health care field; however, even if the registration cannot confirm that you are in a health care field, it will allow you to skip and continue.
The username and password you setup should be placed into the initial epocrates screen. The application will go through a length initialization process the first time it runs.
The front screen is simple and allows the user direct access to the primary function of looking up medications. Most users will ignore the messages that epocrates always places here.
Typing a medication in the search box will provide information about the drug.
Instead of having all the information on one screen, the user has to select what information they desire about the drug.
Here an example of the dosing information provided.
Interaction check is a theoretically useful feature. Input the drugs and the database will let the user know about any potential dangerous interactions.
Here I have entered two commonly used critical care medications to see what interactions might exist.
The database does a good job of providing known interactions and dangers. Of course, most physicians are not going to enter all the multiple drugs a patient might be on. This type of interaction check is best done at the pharmacy at the time of delivery. However, this is a nice tool to have.
Pill ID is another interesting idea. Considering how dangerous and expensive medications are, one would assume that people would know exactly what drugs they have been prescribed. Nope.
Patients are constantly trying to describe their medications to physicians and nurses. The pill id portion of epocrates should help with this, if somebody knows enough to input all the various criteria. “Do you know your pill’s coating and clarity?” “It’s the little, red one.”
It’s free after soul-sucking registration.
Despite holding a great deal of searchable material without having to connect to the net or wifi, the application required less than 200MB of space on the iPhone.
The application has just a slight drag to it on the original iPhone. It is not slow but is not as quick as I am used to typical iPhone activities. It is certainly not slow enough to keep me from using it throughout the day.
Epocrates Rx has successfully made the transition to the iPhone/iTouch platform. If this is any sign of things to come, Apple will soon be a force in the medical PDA/smartphone market.