Yesterday Apple presented the blueprint for iPhone OS 3.0, the next version of their advanced mobile platform. They showed some really cool new features for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but particularly interesting to me was their enthusiasm about medicine and medical devices.
The new iPhone operating system, which will be available later this year, will among other things enable manufacturers of iPhone accessories better integration with the phone itself. They will, for example, be able to control their devices through the graphical user interface on the iPhone. Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone Software at Apple, in his presentation dares us to imagine a blood pressure measuring device which communicates and stores data on the iPhone. Later on he is joined on the stage by Anita Mathew from Lifescan, the Johnson&Johnson company which has unveiled an iPhone application that lets users upload glucose readings from their connected blood glucose monitors to their iPhone. Learn more by watching the following video segments from the presentation.
This is on a path of something I hypothesized several months ago here, when I was contemplating an idea to have a pulse oximeter on the iPhone. I also talked more about such possibilities with Dr. R.A. Brest van Kempen, CEO of RS TechMedic.
If you are interested in this topic you can always watch the latest Apple event it is entirety.
In two days, four new medical apps have appeared in the iTunes App store. You might want to check them out if you own an iPhone or iPod Touch.
1. The Human Body 2
This app will help you understand the basics of different systems:
1. The nervous system
2. Muscle System and parts
3. Some internal organs of the body
4. Skeletal System
5. And basics parts of the brain
Authors promise they will update the app every few months, but so far it doesn’t show much promise. For something much better in the same domain look at the Netter’s Anatomy Flash Cards.
MedCalc is a free medical calculator, that gives you easy access to complicated medical formulas and scores. It has been available on mobile platforms for almost a decade, so it leverages years of experience in bringing medical equations to physicians in an easy to use, yet very powerful format.
This app provides quick access to procedural sedation and analgesia information. Imaging if you just meet someone and they were browsing through you iPhone to see what apps you have, and they saw one called Sedation. Ups, this guys is up to no good, I am not going on any more blind dates, ever!
Sedation includes medications, reversal agents, major tranquilizers, preparation, pretreatment, and calculated drug doses for the patient’s actual weight. It also supports kg and lbs. Drug details include doses, pregnancy category, preparation, onset, duration, indications, contraindications, major side-effects, method of use, approximate pharmacy cost, and more.
I purchased my iPhone about six months ago and it has in many ways changed my life for the better. This is especially true regarding my work as a medical doctor. I believe that iPhone is a perfect gadget and that it can improve any physician’s performance. That is way I decided to present some of many useful ways you can utilize iPhone in your practice.
Access your Electronic Medical Record
Life Record is a company which produces Life Record Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software. What is interesting about it is that you can access your records form an iPhone. You can also make updates and even write prescriptions.
View medical images
To view your radiology images remotely you can use the Mobile MIM iPhone Application. This application provides multi-planar reconstruction of data sets from modalities including CT, PET, MRI and SPECT, as well as multi-modality image fusion. Using the multi-touch interface, users can change image sets and planes; adjust zoom, fusion blending, and window/level.
Medical Calculator gives quick access to calculations that are too hard to memorize or perform in your head. There are around 50 clinical calculations that you can do with it right now, and more are coming. To not get lost, favorite those you use often.
Access drug information
Epocrates Rx software for iPhone puts continually updated peer-reviewed drug information at your fingertips. This can improve patient care and safety, save time, reduce administrative burden and enable confident clinical decisions.
There are many powerful note taking apps for iPhone out there. But let me just present the two most interesting, Evernote and Jott.
Evernote allows you to take text, snapshot, saved photo and voice notes. When you take for example a voice note, you can add a title to it, some description and tags. The interesting thing happens after you have taken your notes. They synchronize with your online account and what this means is that you can access them from anywhere. From your computer using a desktop application or from any other computer in the World with an Internet connection via the web interface. Everything is always synchronized across all of your devices. One cool thing that Evernote can do is transcribe images, meaning that it is capable to find text inside an image and make it searchable. It doesn’t yet transcribe your voice notes to text, but I believe this feature will be coming in the near future.
There are some advices on how to use Evernote on The Efficient MD blog, but I am sure you can think of many more ways to utilize this app. For example you could take snapshots of your patient’s injuries in the ER or record interviews with your patients.
Well, this other application, Jott is capable of doing what Evernote still can’t. It can capture your to-dos and transcribe your voice into text and place the resulting notes in your lists.
As a modern evidence based medicine physician you have to read and follow new developments in your field. Often you find interesting articles on the Internet, but don’t have time to read them. My advice is to save them for latter and read them on your iPhone during your breaks, when you are on call and have some free time or while waiting in some line. Perfect little app that can help you do just that is Instapaper and it is one of my favorite iPhone app ever. When you find something on your computer that you want to read later, simply click Read latter bookmark. Then when you have time, just open Instapaper app on your iPhone and read those articles. You would think that the iPhone’s screen is too small to read, but you would be wrong. It’s high resolution screen and zoom capabilities make reading enjoyable.
Of course you can read whole books on the iPhone too. Use Stanza to transfer and read all your important medical e-books.
Apart from reading, you can do a little bit of watching and listening, to thousands of podcasts in the medicine category. A podcast is a series of audio or video digital-media files which is distributed over the Internet and can be transfered to your iPhone. Listen and watch podcast from The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine and many others while you, let say, travel to work.
Enhance your scientific research
You can use your iPhone to find scientific literature. Download PubSearch and search among the millions of research papers indexed in PubMed. This app has a simple user interface with fast access to the PubMed database, and it lets you concentrate on finding the research articles you need without getting in your way. PubSearch Plus is on the way and it will allow you to not only read abstracts, but full-text articles too.
Convert your iPhone into a wireless external disk, one with a lot of memory. This way you can carry around all the important documents for your undergoing scientific project. Come to a meeting with your colleagues and have all your excel and powerpoint files with you. Also bring some scientific articles in pdf, or other format, related to your research. All these files can easily be opened on your iPhone or access from any PC or Mac in the room. This is all done using AirSharing for iPhone.
You too deserve to have fun from time to time. There are numerous great games for iPhone and if nothing these can help you relax during an intensive and difficult shift. There have been some results published about video games and their ability to enhance surgeons’ performance. So before your next surgery why not try playing a game like Labyrinth to get you all warmed up and focused.
As you can see there are numerous useful ways you can utilize iPhone as a medical professional. This is not all of course, there are many other interesting apps coming up everyday and I did not mention the obvious things like reading email, surfing the web and contacting people via sms or IM services. I am looking forward to new medical apps that might appear in the future. Also, wouldn’t it be cool if somebody introduced some iPhone medical accessories. I would like to see some pulse oximeter sensors or ECG cables for iPhone. They could plugin-in to it’s 30-pin dock connector to input data which, I am sure, due to it’s processing power iPhone would not have a problem to analyze. Are we getting closer to those great all in one medical devices from Star Trek? 🙂
More and more health iPhone applications are available each day in the App Store. Most of them are for sale, but there are some which you can download for free. Here is my current top three of free health apps.
1. Epocrates Rx
Includes the drug guide, formulary information and drug interaction checker. Also offers continual free updates and medical news.
2. Eponyms (for students)
Offers a list of 1,600 common and obscure medical eponyms (e.g., Rovsing’s sign, Virchow’s node) with descriptions.
A simple pregnancy calculator to determine the estimated delivery date and gestational age.