Based on the more rigorous surveys and reports, it's still true that clinicians are generally more eager adopters of both mobile devices and the medical apps that run on them. The persistent challenge for many iPad-toting physicians, however, is where to turn for medical app recommendations. In its efforts to be at least somewhat helpful on that front, Apple has slightly reworked and beefed up its now more visible section of "Apps For Healthcare Professionals", which appears to be consistently featured in the AppStore's medical section now.
We'll be discussing mobile health tools used by clinicians with HCA and AirStrip Technologies this Thursday afternoon -- be sure to register for our free webinar here, if you have not done so already.
In May 2012 Manhattan Research published its latest data on physician smartphone, tablet, and app adoption, which in most ways outpaces the average consumer. In May the research firm found that already 62 percent of US doctors already had some kind of tablet device -- twice as many as in 2011 -- and even many of those with devices planned to buy an additional one within a few months.
The iPad continues to dominate as the physician's tablet of choice. Only the Kindle Fire had made some inroads beyond single percentage points of adoption, which is where all other comers stood.
Manhattan's VP of Research Monique Levy noted in May that while tablet adoption has soared, doctors aren’t finding the devices to be replacements for their smartphones. One of the biggest strikes against tablets, according to those physicians surveyed, were that tablets are too big for their lab coat pockets. Levy said that while new coats with larger pockets are available they “don’t cut it,” according to the thousands of physicians surveyed.
The new iPad mini certainly solves that problem, which may mean smartphone cannibalization is possible in the years ahead after all.
As app users, physicians typically download fewer apps than the average consumer but they use a higher share of those apps that they do download, according to Manhattan. They also use their apps on a more frequent basis than the average consumer. Between patient consultations, physicians are likely to use their tablet or a desktop/laptop if they are looking to read a full journal abstract, watch a video, or fully access an EHR. During patient consultations the range of activities physicians are likely to do on smartphones is a little bit narrower, and often include “simple tasks that have one or two steps,” Levy said. About 18 percent of physicians use some aspects of EHRs on their mobile devices — even on their smartphones. The biggest surprise Manhattan Research encountered during its survey was a lack of mobile offerings that help enable the “swivel effect” where the physician flips the screen around to explain something to their patients.
In September 2011, Apple added a new section to its AppStore for healthcare professionals that included about 50 apps designed for iPad and iPhone users. A little more than a year later the section has been slightly reworked: Apple added a new subsection for nurses, changed the name of its "point of care" section to "patient education" and added a few new apps to most of the existing subsections, too. Apple now recommends some 80 apps to healthcare professionals and it makes for an interesting list of top medical apps.
Finding worthwhile medical apps has been a longstanding issue for physicians, nurses, and other clinicians. Wading through the now tens of thousands of health-related apps to find useful ones to use in care settings is a generally cumbersome chore unless you know what you are looking for. Over the years a handful of blogs have sprung up to offer recommendations and reviews from individual medical students or physicians. Happtique has quickly built a following as it develops its own filtered medical app store of sorts that intends to make it easier for healthcare facilities to discover and distribute apps. And Apple appears to be slowly doing its part to highlight apps it deems to be of a certain quality, but its reasons for choosing the 80 apps below -- like many things the company does -- remains unclear.
Given the thousands of tweets and shares our first review of Apple's Apps for Healthcare Professionals received, we have taken another look to update and compile a slideshow of the apps currently featured in the section and broken them into the categories that Apple uses. Read on for a brief description of each and some screenshots:
Our Definition: Medical reference apps provide information about medications, diseases, conditions, and other medical topics.
Journal of Clinical Oncology
The Merck Manual - Professional Edition
The Merck Manual's iOS app is a digital version of its reference text. Users can browse the app by section and by symptom, and the app automatically logs what sections users have read.
(WebMD for iPad is no longer featured in this section as Apple likely realized its generally used by consumers not healthcare professionals.)
WebMD's physician app had the distinction of being the most downloaded free medical app of 2010. It includes a drug interaction checker, procedure reference, and daily medical news updates.
Unbound MEDLINE connects you to over 20 million journal citations and abstracts from PubMed via your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Perform searches and link to the publisher’s full text articles. Visually explore the literature using Grapherence to find related and relevant articles.
LabGear ~ Medical lab reference guide
Medical lab reference app LabGear is a pocket tool for Medical Laboratory tests and now includes integration with MedCalc.
Journal of Clinical Oncology
Readers can now access Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) articles optimized for viewing on the iPhone and iPad.
Micromedex Drug Information
The app is described as "a free resource for on-the-go access to the industry’s most trusted clinical reference information, providing users the peace-of mind of knowing the information is from Micromedex, coupled with the ease of use of iPhone and iPad."