Medicine and the iPhone

08/31/2008 15:37:15

When Apple announced the iPhone SDK, we knew that Epocrates Rx was coming. Strangely, it took forever for some of the obvious other medical utilities to appear….

For those who don’t know, in my “other life” I am an academic hospitalist. Having appropriate medical utilities on my iPhone is quite a boon - no more carrying my palm pilot AND cell phone around…

Some of the medical utilities that I have tried:

(as of Aug 31, 2008)


This program has a large number of formulas and tools, and also has the handy “Favorites” ability. I certainly appreciate having a large selection of formulas on hand, but I also want a “short list” of the ones I actually use on a daily basis. In fact, some of the included formulas are ones I have not heard of - I have some reading to do….

The list of included formulas is fairly comprehensive, and hopefully will continue to grow with each update. So far, this is looking to be my top utility (behind Epocrates Rx, of course). And because the overall app is working well, it should be fairly easy for the developer to continue to add in new features — this app could easily incorporate many of the functionality of some of the other medical “one shot” applications.

Well worth the $4.99. Especially since I was considering writing a program like this, and would much rather pay $5 than spend the hours it would have taken me to do this….

Update: Version 1.0.3 adds new features including a fairly complete pregnancy calculator. I am definitely happy every time I can get rid of an application that only does one thing in favor of an application that does the work of multiple other apps.

Epocrates Rx

One complaint - how much longer until they release the iPhone equivalent of the Pro version - I paid for another year after being told that my subscription would transfer. That implies that there is a paid iPhone version, and not just a free version that doesn’t require a subscription….


Just released today, this app fills a void in the “Palm-iPhone” gap. In addition to a basic acid-base interpretation, it includes a calculator to predict FiO2 requirements for a given PO2, and will also calculate some cardiac output related values.

My biggest complaint is that this app, like many of the other ABG interpreters available for the Palm, doesn’t perform a very thorough analysis of the ABG data. In my mind, this renders it useless for patient care, or for educational purposes. Hopefully, the author will update this function for the next release and make this a “best of breed” app.

Medical Calculator

This app is free, which is nice, but is pretty limited. BMI, Corrected Na, FeNa, MELD, and Parkland tools are all available in Mediquations. It does calculate a Bicarb deficit (honestly, I don’t think I have ever used this one), and corrects CSF WBC count (handy, and saves working it out by hand). Neither of these are deal-breakers for me, so I will stick with Mediquations for now.

On a more positive note - the Pregnancy Wheel in this program is quite nice, and much better than the also free OBWheel.

This application is also undergoing further development, so there will be additional features in the next version.


This app works, and shows gestation age and due date based on LMP. But, again, the pregnancy tools in Medical Calculator and Mediquations are more full-featured.


I guess this is handy for searching PubMed from the iPhone, but since you can’t do much with the results it seems like a waste for right now. Perhaps the next version will be more useful?

Applications I have not tried

Since writing this, a few new apps have come out. I have not tried them, so cannot say if they are better or worse than the ones I have used.

MediMath -

Doctor’s Aid - no working web site available

Both of these of appear similar to the others by screen shots, and the lists of formulas are not yet as thorough as Mediquations. However, I am sure that subsequent releases will add more features. The difficulty is going to be when each app has one formula you need that the others don’t. I was hoping that a good open source calculator would come out that would allow users to contribute formulas. But I guess it’s better to have 4 options than 0 options….

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