Hospitals and labs have been high-tech for half of a century, but practitioners — not so much until now. With PDAs and smartphones, the tech has made it all the way clinician at the “point of service.” Smartphones like the Iphone 4 and Droid now offer a dizzying array of medical apps for PAs, students in PA training programs, and those who want to become physician assistants. I got more than a little overwhelmed trying to review all the relevant applications, so I decided to keep it simple at this point. Instead of an exhaustive summary, I challenged myself to keep within a few rules for this review. They are:
- free apps only
- general enough to be helpful to any PA/MD/RN/NP or student.
- professional/scientific (no massage/homeopathy/how to get a great tan type health stuff)
- No epocrates! (I have nothing against it, but it’s so commonplace now that it would almost be a cop-out).
Medscape is the other totally popular free medical app. If you don’t use it, you should. It offers a huge drug reference library, a disease/condition library (with info summaries, differentials, diagnostic workups, treatments, meds, and follow up), procedures and protocols, and a drug interaction checker. These are organized with their own menus, and subdivided by body system. This “meat” is all very useful, but what makes Medscape so amazing is the gravy that goes along with it. Searchable directories of doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies; medical news articles (“An Imperative to Treat: The Role of Anticoagulation in Atrial Fibrillation”), and even continuing education credits obtained by reading articles and answering questions on them. This last feature, continuing medical education (CMEs) won’t apply until you have your license to practice medicine, but it assures you will continue to benefit from the program for a long time to come. Finally, all of the articles are savable for future reference, so you can collect and keep the pieces of information that matter to you most.
An eponym is a name or term that is derived from a person’s name. In medicine, eponyms are all over the place, and they’re tough to keep straight. Auerbach’s Plexus, Beau’s Lines, Nicolau’s Syndrome, Chvostek’s sign — they sound obscure — and some of them are. But many more are commonplace. For example, when you’re examining a knee injury, you need to know the difference between a Lachman Maneuver and a McMurray test. With Eponyms (for students), you’ll always have the answer handy when you need it. The app divides descriptions of the various eponyms by category (anatomy, biochemistry, dermatology, etc). In addition, you can star your favorites for quick reference, or look at those you’ve seen most recently. The eponyms aren’t searchable by name only (a slight bummer), but if you can narrow one down to a category, you can then search by name. A few funny ones exist too: Hickum’s dictum: a “patient can have as many diseases as they damn well please.” I’ll let you wonder about Brompton’s cocktail…
Medical Radio is for the audiophiles. I do quite a bit of driving to get to school, and I pass the time by filling my brain with stuff via podcast. There are some great medical podcasts out there (I’ll save them for another post), but Medical Radio is a must for today’s topic. Much like the National Public Radio app, Medical Radio provides a wireless portal to medically related streaming audio content, all in ~15 minute chunks. This content can take the form of lectures, inservices, and even audio CMEs. You can listen live to whatever happens to be on, or queue up a talk by the programming series (“Focus on Disaster Medicine,” “Focus on Pharmacy,” “Advances in Women’s Health,” etc), or you can search for content that interests you by clinical specialty. If you are not yet a student, you may hear plenty of things you don’t really know about, but that’s exactly why you should be doing it. You’ll be surprised at how much you can absorb “by osmosis,” as my biology teacher used to say. Program information on the speaker, the date, and the talk is also available, and the app is updated with new material all the time. A do not miss for sure.
MMM is actually a sweet little suite of applications. The focus here is on diseases and conditions. Harrison’s guide is an applet with information on hundreds of disorders, organized by symptom, specialty, ICD-9 Code (for billing and insurance purposes), and drug information. Also included are the similar but more comprehensive Merck Manual, MEDLINE journals (a collection of digitized medical jourarnal articles), the pocket guide to diagnostic tests (lab tests, drug monitoring, imaging, etc.), Reuters medical news articles, and RSS feeds on medical news (FDA, World Health Organization, etc.) WHEW! With all that information, your biggest problem became the crick in your neck from the time you will spend reading your iphone…