A Medical Library in Your Pocket for the Healthcare Professional

Tired of carrying around multiple medical reference books and then trying to discern the pertinent from the irrelevant information? Fed up with constantly looking at the index or table of contents and thumbing through hundreds of pages to find what you’re looking for? Finding it difficult to juggle inputting medical formulas and fumbling between your calculator and the patient’s lab values? What about researching drug interactions by reading through each drug entry in the PDR and then piecing it all together in your head to ensure your patient’s safety? Aside from being a great communications tool, which is extremely important to all healthcare professionals, the iPhone can spare you from significant amounts of tedious work. All this and more can be easily accessed via Epocrates Essentials for the iPhone!

I have extensive graduate schooling in the fields of dentistry and medicine.

I completed a surgical residency to prepare me for the specialty that I now practice.

Throughout my education, the ability to have information relating to diseases, medications and treatments at my fingertips was always vital.

With the popularization of PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistants) like the Palm Pilot, my lab coat shed what felt like hundreds of pounds as I eliminated the books that I carried with me.

All of the information contained in dozens of those reference books that I and my fellow classmates lugged around was now digitized – transformed into tiny electrons that could be summoned on command via my stylus.

However, you still had a pager (sometimes two), a cell phone (we’re not talking about the ultracompact, easy to use, affordable ones of today) and your PDA.

So after ten years, technology has finally caught up with the modern healthcare professional and delivered an easy to use and compact communications device that gives you the ability to carry with you important medical information you will need to get your practice and your patients in great shape.

The solution is Epocrates Essentials on your iPhone.

Epocrates offers two services through the same app found on the App Store.

The free version is called Epocrates Rx.

It is a free drug and formulary reference that provides continuous updates on more than 3,300 brand and generic medications.

Medication information includes black box warnings, adverse reactions, contraindications, safety and monitoring information, pharmacology information, pricing, pill images and insurance coverage details.

You can check for harmful drug-drug interactions between multiple (up to thirty) medications. Pill ID lets you help identify pills that your patients take by their physical appearance.

It also includes dozens of medical formulas to aid in performing medical calculations to ascertain important patient information such as BMI or delivery date.

The premium suite is known as Epocrates Essentials.

It includes the above mentioned features of Epocrates Rx but adds:

Disease information including definition, classification, epidemiology and etiology

  • Peer-reviewed content in collaboration with the publishers of the British Medical Journal
  • Searchable by diagnosis or symptom, you can access evidenced-based treatment options
  • Differential diagnosis with links to respective disease content within
  • Tests categorized by initial, emerging and which to consider
  • Follow up considerations including monitoring, patient instructions and prevention as well as complications
  • History and exam including risk and diagnostic factors

Infectious disease

  • Treatment guidelines for hundreds of infectious diseases
  • Allows search by body system
  • Offers empiric and specific treatment recommendations

Diagnostic and Lab tests

  • Information on hundreds of tests and panels including preparation and collection guidelines, interpretation and follow up

Alternative Medicines with Information on more than 600 complementary and alternative medicines including:

  • Reported uses and doses
  • Interactions with prescription drugs
  • Cautions
  • Pregnancy and lactation safety
  • Adverse reactions

Epocrates Rx is free

Epocrates Essentials costs $149 for 1 year and $249 for 2 years.

I have been using Epocrates Rx since its debut with the App Store. I recently purchased a 1-year subscription to Epocrates Essentials and use it fairly often.

The user interface is clean and the information provided is comprehensive, at least with respect to my needs. It is a great reference for students, residents and private practitioners alike, especially if you’re on the go or require immediate information at the patient’s bedside.

I highly recommend both applications. If all you need is a quick and dependable source for drug information, Epocrates Rx should be enough for you.

If you require more information, including disease, diagnostic test, infectious disease and alternative medicine particulars, then Epocrates Essentials should do very well for you.

**Before purchasing Essentials, please contact Epocrates directly to inquire further about specific details you may be interested in or may want to learn more about as they have excellent support available and are extremely helpful, most of the time.

What medical references do you use in your practice on your iPhone? Which references would you like to see that are not yet available for the iPhone?

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