Free iPhone medical apps that every doctor can use

by Iltifat Husain, Yousif Alkadhi, MD, and Satish Misra

If you’re a physician, medical student, or in any other health care related field, trying to find the best free medical apps for the iPhone is a hassle.

Apps such as “Dream Meanings”, “Relax Ocean waves”, and “Stool Scanner Lite” dominate the Top Free Medical Apps list in the App Store. Our top 10 iPhone medical apps list contains no such app, and this isn’t a re-hash of the top downloaded free medical apps either. Rather, this list contains the top 10 free iPhone apps health care professionals and students can actually use on a day to day basis.

1) Medscape
We mentioned this app when it was released in the summer of 2009. At the time I doubt many thought it would ever eclipse Epocrates in the top free medical apps section of the App Store, but with significant recent updates it’s accomplished this feat.

This app always had a great drug reference section, with over 6,000 generic, brand, and OTC drugs, along with a drug interaction checker. But with recent updates, Medscape now has a Diseases and Conditions section, along with a Clinical Procedures section. These added sections aren’t just fluff, they actually contain concise and useful information, with videos and pictures to boot. We plan on doing a full review in the near future.

Cost: Free

2) Epocrates
The free version of Medscape might be ranked higher on our list, and in the App Store, but I guarantee almost every medical professional still has at least the free version of Epocrates. My peers and I often joke about how Epocrates is the “most trusted name in Medicine” – because it’s the one app med schools and medical institutions aren’t afraid of pushing.

The free version, called Epocrates Rx, includes: Drug interactions, Pill Identifier, Drug Info, and Medical Calculator. Surprisingly, Medscape doesn’t have a medical calculator, you would think this added functionality would be easy to do. In our review of Epocrates, we go over all the different versions in details, along with pricing – we were definitely impressed.

Cost: Free

3) iRadiology
This app is a must download if you’re a resident or a medical student. Even if you’re not in that category, you might want to download this app just for fun. iRadiology has a catalog of over 500 radiology cases designed to help medical students and residents improve their plain film, CT, and MRI reading skills.

The cases are derived from Dr. Gillian Lieberman, who is currently the Director of Harvard Medical Student training and Associate Director of the Residency Program at Beth Israel Medical Center. We interviewed her when iRadiology was released – and she provided some great insight into the inspiration for the app.

Cost: Free

4) MedPage Today Mobile
What’s not to like about MedPage Today? The website is a fantastic resource for medical professionals, and a lot of the content is in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine – further securing its academic credentials. Their motto is, “Putting Breaking Medical News Into Practice”, and this app helps you with this cause via mobile access.

In addition, you can get audio and video through this app, allowing you to get CME credits while using MedPage Today mobile. With the most recent update, MedPage Today mobile now allows you to do a full text search of all articles published on their website since 1/1/07, definitely a welcome addition.

Cost: Free

5) Medical Radio
This is a product of ReachMD, probably most famous for its XM Satellite Radio broadcast feeds (XM 160) of medical information – and these feeds are available live through this app. MedicalRadio allows you to keep up to date with changing clinical guidelines, and I’ve found the medical talks to be informative and useful.

We haven’t done a full review of this app, but the original iteration of this app, ReachMD CME, made it into our old top medical apps list.

Cost: Free

6) MedCalc
We’ve always been fans of MedCalc, now the most popular free medical calculator in the App Store. There’s not much to say about it, other than it’s created by physicians who are dedicated to keeping it as a free resource for medical professionals. Also, don’t forget Epocrates Rx (free) has a great medical calculator built.

Cost: Free

7) NeuroMind
NeuroMind is one of the two medical apps on this list that we haven’t reviewed on iMedicalApps. Its a great tool for medical students, neurology residents, and even neurosurgeons. It contains a wide range of information, from basic neuro-anatomy to the WHO Safe Surgery checklist items.

Cost: Free

8. Drug trials
Drug Trials is an app we featured on one of our “recently released free medical apps” list. If you find yourself using clinicaltrials.gov, then this is a great app to have. It’s packed with features such as eligibility criteria, e-mail out functionality, and it can even use Google Maps to show the location of the trial!

We reviewed another similar app awhile back, Clinical Trials, but Drug Trials is just as good or slightly better. And unlike Clinical Trials ($7.99), this one is free.

Cost: Free

9) Eponyms (for students)
Webster’s definition of Eponym is: one for whom or which something is or is believed to be named. In medicine, we encounter this all the time when memorizing obscure diseases or pathologies. This app contains over 1700 of these medical eponyms with short descriptions of each – a nice learning tool for students.

Note, this is the “student” version of the app. If you’re no longer a student the developers ask you to download the $1.99 version of the app – and it contains the same content.

Cost: Free

10) MSK Radiology Teaching File – LITE
This was another app we featured on one of our regular columns, “recently released free medical apps”. MSK Radiology is the lite version of Radiopaedia.org’s Radiology Teaching Files: Volume 3, an app designed to teach radiology. Although this is a lite version, I was surprised to find out how much information it packs in 10 full cases.

This lite version comes included with some relatively common pathologies and even though it’s free, you could definitely get some good learning accomplished if you’re a resident or a medical student. There are other LITE versions of Radiopaedia.org’s content with similar formats. Usually I wouldn’t include a LITE version of an application in this list of free medical apps, but this app had plenty of content. Also, if you find the cases useful the full cost is $4.99 for each set of 50 cases, not a bad price.

Cost: Free

Conclusion:
So there you have it, the top 10 free medical apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch that are actually useful to medical professionals. We’ve reviewed 8 out of 10 of these apps, and I encourage you to look at our full catalog of reviews, where we’ve reviewed a diverse group of apps with various price ranges.

Satish Misra is a cardiology fellow and a founding partner and managing editor, iMedicalApps. Iltifat Husain is founder and editor, iMedicalApps.

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