There’s revolution in the air, and it’s called Wi-Fi. Wireless-internet-equipped smartphones like iPhones, BlackBerrys and Palms are more than just new variations on your trusty pager or your cell: smartphones are changing the way some physicians practice.
“Times have changed in the PDA world,” says Dr. Paul Arnold, a Toronto emergency physician who used to edit the Medical Palm Review. The difference now? On-the-go internet access via Wi-Fi or 3G networking.
“It definitely has changed the way we do medicine,” says Vancouver family medicine resident Jessica Otte. “I can get the information I need right away.”
How are these plugged-in doctors using their smartphones in clinical settings to save time and improve patient care? Parkhurst Exchange spoke to clinicians from across Canada and overseas to find the best applications.
1. Epocrates. Without equal among mobile pharmacopeias, and by consensus the most useful app around, Epocrates provides detailed prescribing information at your fingertips. Even though it doesn’t list some Canadian formulations and is missing a few OTC drugs, it puts a library’s-worth of reliable, constantly updated drug information right in your pocket. (www.epocrates.com; all platforms; basic version free, expanded version US$159/year)
2. UpToDate. UpToDate provides excellent, peer-reviewed, evidence-based clinical data and recommendations on any computer with internet access. (www.uptodate.com; all platforms via web browser; US$495/year) If your hospital doesn’t have an institutional subscription, consider the cheaper 5 Minute Clinical Consult. (www.5mcc.com; all platforms; US$79.95/year)
3. Voxie Pro Recorder. There are lots of dictation apps out there, but this one gives you the most bang for your buck — well, two bucks. (www.bottlerocketapps.com; iPhone only; US$1.99) BlackBerry users can try AudioWav MobileMic. (www.dataworxs.com; free)
4. MedCalc. A really useful and surprisingly comprehensive set of medical calculators. Forgetting your Framingham equations? Just ask your smartphone. (www.med-ia.ch/medcalc; iPhone, Palm, Windows Mobile; free) For BlackBerry users, there’s QxMD. (www.qxmd.com; iPhone, BlackBerry; free) Also handy is DoctorCalc’s Normal Lab Values app. (www.doctorcalc.com; iPhone only; US$1.99)
5. Google Calendar. Rounds at 9, clinic at 11:30, CME lunch at 1… Who can keep it all straight? Google can. (www.google.com/mobile/#p=default; all platforms; free)
6. OsiriX. This app lets you bring radiological images with you wherever you go. If you want to. (www.osirix-viewer.com; iPhone only; US$19.99)
7. iSilo. If you know a little bit about programming or want to learn, iSilo and the free destktop client iSiloX let you create custom files and databases. Toronto’s Dr. Paul Arnold, for instance, uses it to remember rare billing codes. (www.isilox.com; all platforms; US$9.99 to $19.99)