Top 10 iPhone Apps Every Medical Student Must Have

iphone-5sUpdated: Nov 2014

If there’s one medical tool I use all the time when I’m on the wards, it’s my smartphone (iPhone). In fact, from personal experience, over 80-90% of my classmates, residents and staff physicians a smartphone daily. The reason why is more and more of our work is reliant on having the most up to date knowledge and tools in our fingertips. Medications are properly dosed, calculations are done correctly and you’re able to look up obscure information ensuring patients receive better care.

I personally use the iPhone as it’s got some of the best apps for for medical students and health care professionals. However, while the iOS ecosystem may have been the best when I first wrote this article in 2011, today Android’s phones essentially have just as many apps.

I’m going to share with you what I think are the best medical apps that every medical student should have. This list was made from personal experience. I’ve included my own personal rating (out of 10), and will be briefly listing the pros and cons to each one. Anything >8, I would strongly recommend you get it right away (hint: most of them are free!)

1. Medscape Mobile (10/10)

Easily the best FREE fully comprehensive medical app. For anyone that has ever used emedicine online, this is their exact same complete database in your pocket, all available for download for offline use. Their drug references are easy to use, their pictures relevant and their article collection extensive.

Pros: Extensive article collection, with over 4000+ in depth clinical references. You’ll be able to find even the most obscure diseases. Thorough information, easy to read, up to date with references. All downloadable to be used offline!

Cons: Because each article is finely detailed and subdivided into many sections, it’s not as quick as some other apps at getting information to your fingertips.

2. MedCalc (10/10)

If you can never remember all those medical formulas, from the simple like how to calculate to the complicated renal filtration equations, this app is for you! Simple to use, comes with explanations of all formulas, converts all units, this app is a lifesaver! Plus if you have a smart phone, the staff docs almost expect the medical student will do all the calculating, unit conversions, and formulas with our fancy toys.

Pros: Used to be free but now costs only $0.99! You can favorite all your commonly used formulas, sort them by categories, and it’s all backed up with references and explanations. My favorite uses are unit conversions, BMI, various scoring formulas (eg, APACHE, Ranson’s) and flow chart decision making (eg, Canadian C-Spine rules)

Cons: For those who feel like $0.99 is too much to give for this fantastic app, an alternative is QxMD which has tons of formulas and is also free. Note that some formulas you should just know off the top of your head because they’re common and not hard to calculate.

3. Figure 1 – Medical Images (9/10)

Figure 1 Icon

A new comer to the medical apps world, Figure 1 is the instagram for medical doctors. Upload your own medical images and participate in the exciting discussions around thousands of images uploaded by people all over the world. There are tools used to protect patient privacy. There are also constantly new features added including following users and multi image scrolls through CT scans.

Pros: Free, great discussions, growing community, smooth interface. See my full review of the app.

Cons: Can be quite gorey for the squemish. You’ve been warned!

4. Micromedex (9/10)

EVERY medical student should have a pharm/drug reference book with them at all times! Whether it’s a pocket book scuh as Tarascon’s Pharmacopoeia, Drugs and Drugs or an electronic one you can never know too much about the drugs you are prescribing. Micromedex is a light, easy to use drug reference. Even pharmacists  I know use this app. However if you want a full powered drug app, Lexi-comp is still the king but comes with a steep price tag ($100+)

Pros: Complete database, able to find both Canadian and US trade names. Has all the indications/contraindications, side effects, pharmacodynamics/kinetics and mechanisms of action that you need. They also have a Clinical Teaching section with prescribing pearls of wisdom.

Cons: Since I last reviewed it, there is now a price associated with it. If you have an online subscription it’s free for the app. Also it’s only drug reference, so it doesn’t offer any information on diseases. The multiple folders can also get a bit tedious, especially if there’s only one word on the next page. I think it would be better if they expanded instead of going to a separate screen, making navigation easier. Just personal preference.

5. Eponyms (8/10)

Can’t remember what McArdle’s syndrome or a Galeazzi fracture? Do you hate remembering names of long gone physicians too? Download this free app and look up all those obscure eponyms you don’t know.

Pros: Free. Pretty extensive eponym database with good descriptions for each. You can sort by categories and star some eponyms for quick reference.

Cons: You have to look up those eponyms! A one trick pony app.

6. Diagnosaurus (7/10)

Don’t let the name fool you, Diagnosaurus is a fast way to come up with a differential. Input a symptom or a disease and quickly get a good differential. Offered by Access Medicine, this app won’t actually make a diagnosis but it will make sure you haven’t left out anything.

Pros: Cheap ($0.99), quick to load, offline use, reliable and comes up decent differentials.

Cons: More useful in Internal Medicine, Peds, ER, Family, not so much in specialty services. Can’t do much other than come up with a differential.

7. UpToDate (8/10)

uptodate

UpToDate is so essential. It’s got all the right information that you need and it’s written in a way that’s accessible. It always answers exactly the questions I need when I need them most. The app has gone through a lot of improvements and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite apps to look things up.

Pros: Has everything you need to know – and probably even too much. If your institution has a subscription (most residency programs will), you can get the mobile app free. This is a new feature that has made me include it on this list.

Cons: Not as lightweight as medscape, and there isn’t any offline use. It can also be a bit pricey to get an UTD subscription if your institution doesn’t subscribe to it.

8. Journal Club (9/10)

Wikijournalclublogo

Another new addition to this top ten list. Can’t remember those cardiology trial names? This app has them all and much more. It bases all its information on the Wiki journal club website, which is constantly updated by its members.

Pros: It’s free and it’s constantly updated. Easy to use, smooth interface. For more details, see my full app review

Cons: There is a one time cost to paying for the app. Small price but worth it in my opinion, especially when you can quote specifics of trials in seconds, whenever someone asks.

9. Medibabble(7/10)

medibabble

There are so many times a patient has walked into the emergency room with a life threatening condition but because they don’t speak English, they get substandard care. Especially with an ever increasingly diverse population, translation services at point of care is essential. Medibabble gets that job done and has the most common questions in a variety of languages.

Pros: Compared to other translation apps, this one has a medical focus. You can ask a patient if they are short of breath in Spanish, French or a plethora of languages. It’s all neatly organized according to part of the assessment you’re on – symptoms, signs, medications, medical history. They also have a function where they will write out the words for those who are hard of hearing. Best of all it’s offline too and you can download a variety of language packs.

Cons: It takes some time to get used to it. The phrases are sometimes excessively long. It will also hog up a lot of hard drive space on your phone, so I often just download only the most common languages I see.

10. Epocrates (7/10)

I use to really like Epocrates, but at the time of writing (2014), I feel like they have fallen behind more robust references (UpToDate, Medscape). The free version only comes with Epocrates Rx (comes with pill identifier, internet connection needed). However, Epocrates Essentials comes with all the goodies including disease monographs, diagnostic tests and relevant hi-res images. Last year, Epocrates Essential was given away for free for medical students, be sure to keep an eye for similar promotions in the future.

Pros: Easy to use and quick to navigate. Relevant information divided in an organized way. Pill identifier can be useful when patients can only describe how a drug looks like (though I’ve only used it a handful of times).

Cons: Can be quite pricey $$$. Not able to find rare diseases/syndromes like medscape. Has a good basic overview of each disease but misses out on small details and evidence based summaries/references that really set you apart. Does not have Canadian drug names in their database. Their MedMath calculator is average.

Honourable Mentions

  • Dropbox - perfect for syncing up useful pdfs, journal articles, class notes
  • Camera – comes default with your phone, useful for documenting, with consent of course
  • Previous Mentions: Skyscape, iRadiology, Pepid

There you have it, Medaholic’s 10 recommended iPhone/iPod Touch Apps for medical students. If you want to see what others have thought about the most useful apps, here are some links below:

Questions for the Discussion:

What’s your favorite medical app? Have an app that you think should have made my list? Favorite apps for BlackBerry and Android users? Would love to hear back from you in the comments.

25 Responses to Top 10 iPhone Apps Every Medical Student Must Have

  1. vodvos says:

    good introduce. useful information for my iphone 4.

  2. Glenebay says:

    Nice tips. This kind of stuff is very best medical apps that every medical student should have. When I’m students, some of my colleague they have a iPhone 4. They said that this is very useful,. I like the version on that iPhone.

  3. Doug says:

    Great list, Medaholic. I think you should also check out our recently released app. We created it with med students in mind and intended for it to be used as a quick point-of-care learning tool for anemia. It’s called “Master Diagnostician Series: Approach to Anemia in the Adult Patient”.
    You’ll find that it’s has less information than hematology programs on Skyscape, for example, but much more succinct with a quicker interface. Perfect for an internal medicine rotation. See what you think.

  4. […] Pediatrics handbook, and the Washington Manual. Take a look at the comprehensive list of the “Top 10 iPhone Apps Every Medical Student Should Have” for […]

  5. dan says:

    just got MatchDr … looks like it will be a great help in finding a residency … really cool..
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/matchdr.-2012/id460817796?mt=8

  6. S.A.B. says:

    I just downloaded Webster’s Medical Dictionary. It has so many acronyms and medical terms at the touch of a finger. Really useful!

    Pro: no internet required!!

  7. […] pricey but a smartphone or iTouch can be really useful for a medical student. The amount of helpful medical apps is […]

  8. Paul says:

    Another great app for generating lists of recommendations for checkups, by age and gender, is called My Health Checklist 2012. Students love it! A good reference when you just can’t remember when to start aspirin, when to stop pap smears, who should have cholesterol checks, etc.

  9. Talia says:

    You should try Dragon medical Search. It has a ‘tap and speak’ search option, so it’s great if you aren’t sure how to spell a new term/drug or you just don’t want to type in a really long word. It also shows you search results form multiple sites: google, medscape, medline, etc. And it’s currently free! :)

  10. Absolutely agree with choices #2 and #3, which I used as a medical student and use every day as a medicine resident. Having access to seminal articles is key too, but there’s hasn’t been a good app for that, so I wrote one with a buddy of mine. It’s called Journal Club for iPhone, and it puts physician-written summaries of landmark clinical trials at your fingertips. Head over to http://journalclubapp.com and get your copy for less than the price of a cup of joe.

  11. Michael says:

    I’m not a medical student but here is an app you all might like. Its called iTriage and is for the iPhone and Android phone. Check it out. The product is free and officers a lot of information. I use it daily for everything.

  12. Horacio Sosa says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge regarding these healthcare-related apps.
    I was wondering if those same apps are available for ipads. I cannot afford an iphone/itouch and barely got my hands on a smart phone some months ago. However, the medical school I will be attending to is making us purchase an ipad as part of our technology bundle, so I was hoping I could use these apps with my ipad. Thanks in advance for the reply.

    Horacio

  13. Burke says:

    FYI – for medical students, pediatricians, or other providers caring for kids, we recently released Kidometer for the iPhone, a pediatric reference tool of age-based norms: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kidometer/id548940880?ls=1&mt=8

    Cheers,

    -Burke

  14. James Gupta says:

    A colleague and I, both medical students at the University of Leeds (UK) recently released an app that you might find useful!

    MyCQs is the only app out there that lets you create your own Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) tests on your iPhone/iPad. It’s not specifically aimed at medical students, but obviously we’re expecting a lot of interest from them because (at least in the UK!) a lot of our exams are taking the MCQ format, and we’ll be writing tests for it as we progress through our course – we already have almost 20 tests up there on topics such as pathology, anatomy and medical sciences, we’ll be adding to them over the next few weeks!

    It has a beautiful custom UI that takes advantage of whatever screen its on, and optional Facebook integration lets you share, comment on, like and send tests to your friends or course mates!

    Hope you find it helpful – James
    http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mycqs/id555999518?mt=8

  15. medicine says:

    I really enjoyed reading what you had to say.You have lots of good ideas.This is really great stuff.Keep going.Thanks for sharing.

  16. steve says:

    I enjoyed using medical word parts quiz for android

  17. Awesome list! I’m surely going to have these on my iPhone. For me “Eponyms” is really cool, this is going to help me a lot. I’m a med-student and a hobby tech-blogger. Recently I posted about “Top MCAT apps for iPhone and iPad”, here:

    http://www.madxperts.com/2013/04/21/top-mcat-apps-iphone-ipad-test-boost-scores/

    I hope your readers will find this article useful. Thanks for the cool list!

  18. blogi modowe says:

    Wow, marvelous blog format! How lengthy have you been blogging for?
    you make running a blog look easy. The full look of your web site is fantastic, let alone the content material!

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  21. […] specific. There are some GED apps, some GRE apps, and other apps for specific entrance exams like med school or law school. Most of these will have limited features in the “free” version, but if […]

  22. […] Athenahealth’s Epocrates and WebMD’s Medscape, two major medical reference apps, could also be enhanced with AR technology. Skin diseases, for example, could be scanned via a camera like a barcode for immediate possible diagnoses. The camera could also be used to capture and log images as study notes to be used alongside the apps, which are two of themost popular apps among medical students. […]

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