Apps have come a long way in the last two years, as smartphones and media tablets like the iPad have become more sophisticated. Here are a few physician favorites.
1. Epocrates. This app is widely popular among physicians. Endocrinologist Melissa Young — who uses it to check for adverse drug reactions, look up medication costs if patients are paying out-of-pocket, identify pills based on appearance, and review CME content — says Epocrates is "indispensible."
2. Blausen Human Atlas HD. Pulmonologist Frank Adams uses this app to help him explain medical conditions to patients. It provides 3-D animations and accompanying narration of common medical treatments and conditions.
3. Phillips Vital Signs Camera. This "very cool" app is definitely worth 99 cents, says otolaryngologist Russell Faust. It uses an iPad2 camera to measure heart rate by detecting small changes in a patient's coloring. The app also tracks chest movement to measure breathing rate. "It is an impressive 'trick' that always wows patients in clinic," Faust says. "It's accurate, and useful."
4. Voxie Medical. This recording application, tied to the Quicktate transcription service, is a handy timesaver, says family medicine physician Craig Koniver. "I dictate my progress notes on my iPhone and then they are transcribed by Quicktate."
5. State Medical Association apps. Looking for a better way to keep up with your association's news while on the go? Check to see if it has an app for your wireless device of choice. Practice administrator Derrick Berger relies on the Texas Medical Association's mobile app to stay up-to-date with news.
6. Doximity. This professional networking tool exclusively for physicians and healthcare professionals is a go-to resource for internist Sameetha Murthy. She uses it to look up pharmacy phone numbers, other physicians' offices, and securely text colleagues.
7. Skype. Videoconferencing isn't just for parents and their kids away at college or long-distance lovers anymore. A growing number of physicians, like Koniver, use this popular app to video conference with patients via mobile devices.
8. Genius Scan+. Available for iPhones and Windows phones, Genius Scan+ allows devotees like Koniver to scan documents, create PDFs, crop and straighten them, and then e-mail them. As an added bonus, users can export documents to Box.net, Dropbox, Evernote, or Google Docs — and print documents to an AirPrint compatible printer.
9. Splashtop. Faust uses the LUMA ENT desktop program for educating patients on the anatomy of ENT conditions/diseases through polished, well-produced videos. "The Splashtop app on the iPad allows access to a portion of that content," he says, calling the desktop program and partner app an "awesome combination."
10. NEJM This Week and CHEST. Keeping up-to-date with medical research is an essential part of a doctor's career. That's why Adams relies on New England Journal of Medicine's NEJM This Week app and CHEST Journal's eponymous app to deliver timely news and content straight to his iPhone and iPad. "These are my favorite journals and these apps provide access to current issues and archives," he says.
11. Evernote. This app connects all of your computers and phones so you can capture something on one device and then access it from another. It's Koniver's "very favorite app" because it helps the family physician keep his life organized.
12. Facebook, Pandora, and Words With Friends. These are just three of the apps physicians told us help balance out their hectic work lives with a little fun.
Marisa Torrieri is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Aubrey Westgate is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Physicians Practice.