Thursday, 6 November 2008

Electronics and Medicine -- The iPhone 3g

Dear Bloggers

I have spoken about the use of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) many times before on this blog and I thought that it was about time to update things.

I want to discuss about the iPhone 3G which has come to many countries throughout the world.

Although it is a phone, it is so much more. With the advent of the AppStore from Apple, there are now many applications which are being tailored for the use of health care professionals.

For example, epocrates ( has now been ported to the iPhone with it being most famously used on the Palm and Windows Mobile platforms. This application allows checking of drugs doses, side effect profiles and drug-drug interactions. This is a must get application for any resident and is of great use to senior doctors alike.

For those interested in working out those difficult blood gases in the early hours of the morning when 'on-call' with tiredness overtaking and the ability to think has long since disappeared into the night, the use of the application 'ABG' can help you work out your acidosis from your alkalosis and can even tell you what the predicted values should be and whether there is a mixed acid-base disturbance. It is well worth getting hold of. It is free!

Skyscape has released a trio combination of applications in one download package which includes a drug reference book, Archimedes medical calculator and Outlines in Clinical Medicine (OCM) quick reference book. This again is a must have application. Whereas other applications for the iPhone available at are available for a 1-year license, this trio combination package is currently free and resides in the memory of your iPhone not in the clouds of the internet somewhere making it accessible all the time !

There are several medical calculators available that can help you work about many of the medical equations that we all once had to learn and have long since forgot. Hence, having such a calculator at hand is very convenient especially when you are on to your 30th patient on the long arduous ward round and are just beginning to lose the will to live and you are faced with needing to work out the estimated GFR (MDRD equation) or predicting the risk of PE with the long list of variables on the Well's Score. One free application is called simply 'Medical Calc' and it is very similar to the MedCalc of the Palm and Windows Mobile platforms. This is well worth the free tariff!

Other applications that I would also recommend include:

  • Isilo - again originally developed on the Palm platform, this app can read Pilot Data Base (pdb) files and hence, those large 80 megabyte books can be once again read on the iPhone. Whoopppeee!
  • PubSearch - this is an inexpensive app that allows direct access to Medline via the wifi / 3G function of the iPhone and hence, now evidence based medicine is available at your finger tips when your consultant asks if there is 'any evidence'. You can now com back with a list of 20 papers and teach the consultant a thing or two :-)
  • Netter's Flash Cards for Anatomy e.g. musculoskeletal, neuroanatomy etc are perhaps the most priciest apps on the AppStore for doctors and most recently, there are a series of Surgical books available. For those that need quick access to the famous Netter pictures, these are the ones for you on the iPhone.

In case you thought you might have more than enough medical apps for the iPhone, hang on a moment. UpToDate have a dedicated version of the great evidence based online reference on the iPhone. Of course, this is wholly dependent on an internet connection to search for information. I sincerely hope that the UpToDate team can produce a version that can be uploaded onto the iPhone unit meaning that access to this reference can be anytime and in any place.

Lastly, are currently developing the Palm OS 5.0 platform to run on the iPhone. Several months their statement about the app said it would be initially available via a 'jailbroken' iPhone unit. One would hope that Apple will allow the StyleTap app to run on the iPhone so that the great Palm apps can be ported over to the iPhone negating many Palm users having to buy all of their Skyscape books again --- annually! Moreover, the Palm OS is a very quick and stable OS albeit somewhat dated.

All in all, the iPhone is a great unit and I think that it will take over as the new PDA / Smartphone for medics around the globe. My overriding concern is the poor 3G coverage / signal and the lack of battery life. I hope these matters will be fully addressed in the next OS update for the iPhone which will be version 2.2

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