Time-saving, Trouble-averting Apps for Physicians

By Katy Mena-Berkley
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Category: 

Physicians who are searching for information-rich apps have a wide variety of options. Here are a few that have captured significant clinical attention.

Epocrates

One in two physicians utilizes Epocrates, from athenahealth. Physicians may install the app on Android or iOS devices to connect quickly with other physicians or access key information about patients.

The app and most of its content and capabilities are available free of charge, offering physicians cost-effective solutions to gather patient health data and information about medications and drug interactions.

For an annual membership fee of $159.99, physicians may utilize additional functionality, Epocrates Essentials. This premium version includes peer-reviewed disease content developed in partnership with the publishers of The BMJ. This in-depth content explores details such as diagnostic and risk factors for a range of diseases, as well as evidence-based treatment options, patient instructions and follow-up recommendations.

Physicians may also find drug monographs for alternative medicines, such as herbal supplements, on the premium Epocrates page, as well as specific treatment recommendations for infectious diseases.

Epocrates is estimated to save clinicians 20 minutes per day and to help them avoid a minimum of one adverse drug event per week.

GadCalc

Developed by the Radiology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this free iOS app for smartphones and tablets is tailored to certain needs of physicians and technicians working with MRI.

The software is based on the department’s gadolinium dose calculator, which the team released to the public in 2014. Utilizing GadCalc, clinicians may calculate the specific dosage volume of contrast agents that should be administered to patients based on individual patient data.

Additionally, GadCalc details package information for different contrast agents, listing critical variables and details, such as information about clinical trial results, dosage information, possible risks and usage options.

Doximity

Doximity offers physicians opportunities to interact with one another via iOS or Android versions of the software. An estimated 60 percent of clinicians use Doximity to share and exchange HIPAA-secure communication.

Benefits include:

  • The ability to exchange HIPAA-secure faxes without a fax machine
  • A Healthcare Provider Directory to connect with colleagues, other medical school students and co-residents
  • The ability to network with other clinicians and possible employers
  • Opportunities to earn Category 1 Continuing Medical Education credits by reading medical journals
  • A salary comparison map

Close collaboration with industry leaders allows optimization of the app’s capabilities with up-to-date features. Partners include The American Society for Clinical Investigation, Amion physician scheduling software and the Society of Hospital Medicine.

Users may utilize Doximity free of charge, but they must complete a sign-in membership.

A Cautionary Note about Apps for Patients

Not all apps geared toward patients gain high acclaim from physicians, according to a study led by Karandeep Singh, MD, a nephrologist affiliated with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

A group of physicians reviewed 137 of the most popular apps designed for individuals with chronic conditions ranging from addiction and asthma to heart failure and kidney disease. Patients were able to track and enter critical health data into their phones and mobile devices using the apps.

However, researchers found only 28 of the applications had adequate guidance for patients when they entered a value that was considered dangerous.

Further, applications were not always able to satisfy the preferences and needs of both patients and physicians. For example, patients may prioritize convenience, whereas physicians value a high degree of clinical precision.

“An app that enables accurate entry of blood pressure with appropriate indications for high and low blood pressures may be viewed positively by a physician,” Dr. Singh said in an interview with Reuters. “[But] if that app requires a login every time it is started, a consumer may feel it is too burdensome to use and rate it poorly.”

The research was in Health Affairs.

Virtual Practice for Healthcare Providers

A product of NeedStreet Web Technologies Private Ltd., this app is a convenient and cost-effective way to engage patients when they are not in the office.

Available free of charge, the mobile-based EHR software is designed to enhance patient loyalty and improve health outcomes. Physicians may access the app using Android and iOS devices and online, and patients may also register to use this app.

Virtual Practice for Healthcare Providers houses critical patient information and health records, including details about allergies, vaccinations and emergency contacts. Other key features include remote patient monitoring and health-tracking capabilities.

Additionally, physicians may exchange information with patients in real time via video conference. They may also receive written questions from patients and respond with typed messages at physicians’ convenience.