Physicians, Apps and Phones: So Many Choices

I often get asked by people in the library about the best medical apps for their phone.  That is a little bit like asking me what car they should buy.  It all depends on the individuals needs and the type of phone they have.  The first step, is the phone.  Most people who ask me about apps have already made their phone decision.  But if  they haven’t bought a specific phone or they are looking to upgrade, the number and type of apps available play an important part of the decision (Blackberry App World only lists 276 in Health & Wellness, they don’t have a medical category).  In addition to apps there are a lot of other factors in the phone selection process such as carrier, institutional access/support, and whether you live in a rural area all important things to consider. 

I found the article at iMedicalApps.com, “Should medical progressionals get an iPhone, Blackberry or Android phone? It’s complicated,” to be helpful when deciding on a type of phone.  They also have good reviews on various medical apps, so if you or somebody you know has already purchased an iPhone or Android they can browse through the blog and read about the apps.

The blog is written by several people who either already have their MD or are MD/MPH students who are all interested in technology (a given considering this blog) and are practicing in specialties. 

While the blog reviews various apps from the Android it tends to be very iPhone heavy.  This could be due to the fact the iPhone has the most (by far) medical apps available on the smartphone market but it could also be that most of the authors tend to be iPhone users and the site was formally http://www.iphonemedicalappreview.com. (Given that old URL I would expect it to be iPhone centric.)  However I did I noticed one person listed as an author who specifically writes about the Android. 

In order to read the reviews simply click on the Medical App Reviews tab and all of the reviews of medical apps are listed.  Unfortunately it often requires some browsing and skimming through the posts to see what apps are available on what devices.  It would be more helpful if they applied more consistent tagging (Example: High Performing Apps Enter the Android Market post does not have Android as a tag.) and displayed the tags on the sidebar of the blog so readers could easily just click on iPhone or Android and read only about apps for their phones. 

MedicalSmartphones.com is another site that looks at apps, they even have a post soliciting guest reviews on apps.   But in general there just aren’t a lot of good sites specifically dedicated to reviewing medical apps for phones.  Most sites are general like this one from PCWorld and throw everything health related into a medical genre,  are the are general medical MobiHealthNews.com and focus on multiple mobile issues like heart monitoring devices, tablet PCs, as well as apps. 

So if you are looking for reviews on apps (especially if you have something other than an iPhone) it is going to take some digging around on the Internet.  It also helps if you have the specific name like epocrates or type of app like lab values.  However it still looks like a majority of a person’s recommendations/reviews are going to be word of mouth from peers.  As librarians we are in the unique position of seeing many different people over the course of the day, so keep your ears and eyes open as they discuss apps and their smartphones because you might be able to pass that information along to another person.

2 thoughts on “Physicians, Apps and Phones: So Many Choices”

  1. I, too, am guilty of focussing on Apple products almost solely sometimes for medical apps. I certainly second your difficulty in finding info on medical apps for platforms other than the iPhone.

    I try to track Android developments in general and have found some sporadic luck on blogs like Android and Me, MobileCrunch and Boy Genius Report (none, of course, have a very solid medical grounding). MedGadget.com is also a pretty good general site. I just got very excited when I found http://www.doctorandroid.com/ on a forum, but they haven’t posted since January….

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope you get some good feedback from your users on this.

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