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Stacey Peterson
Stacey Peterson
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12 Hot Mobile Medical Apps

Mobile medicine is everywhere. There's the iPhone app that lets you cut away images of muscle layers to see what lies beneath, an e-health record system for the iPad, and a smartphone-based blood pressure monitor. Here are a dozen innovative ones.

This free iPhone app shows you extensive views of the muscle systems. You can tap to enlarge, rotate, and "cut away" a layer of muscle and see muscles underneath. Zoom in for a close-up of a specific muscle group; the app lets you go deeper and deeper. When you rotate an image, you get a side view of the muscle system, as well as a posterior view and front view. The app provides information such as what the muscle is innervated by. It also will quiz you and tell you what each muscle is, the origin and insertion of the muscle, the action (what it does), and the nerve supply. has several other iPhone apps, including the iMuscle app for the iPhone that lets users zoom in and identify muscles, and then shows the exercises associated with building up a specific muscle or muscle group. It also has iPhone apps for the cardiovascular system, the urogenital system, the skeletal system, the nervous system, the digestive system, and other muscle systems. iPad versions are available for several systems, including nervous, cardiovascular, and digestive. Some of 3D4Medical's apps are free but more specialized ones must be purchased.

iHealth's mobile blood pressure monitoring system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod users comes with a blood pressure cuff and a portable battery-operated dock that doubles as a charging station for the Apple iOS devices. Patients can view their blood pressure readings, track them over time, and run reports. The results can be shared with their doctors, as well as family and other caregivers, via email. They can be pushed to Twitter and Facebook to start social media discussions with other hypertension patients and their caregivers. The monitoring cuff and docking station are $99; the companion app is free.

When a physician is caring for an inpatient who just had a heart attack, he needs up-to-the-minute information, even when he can't be at the patient's bedside. This application from AirStrip Technologies provides near-real-time electrocardiogram data directly to an iPad or iPhone. Most docs look at ECGs remotely by viewing scanned ECG strips or accessing them on a desktop. AirStrip Cardiology provides more options. AirStrip also has a mobile app for remote access to a bedside fetal heart monitor. With AirStrip OB, clinicians can view up-to-the-minute FHM strips on an iPhone or iPad.

Need to show a patient a close-up of how the circulatory or respiratory systems works? Blausen Medical's Human Atlas provides full-color, 3-D animations and illustrations about various parts of the human body for just that purpose. The atlas, which also provides voiceover narration, is available for Apple's iOS, Research In Motion's BlackBerry, and Google's Android operating systems, as well as the iPad and RIM's PlayBook tablet. It comes in two volumes, with 150 topics in each. It has 15 subatlases, focusing on specific areas, such as circulatory, pediatric, and skeletal. The smartphone apps are $19.99, and the tablet apps run $29.99. The subatlases are $3.99 to $4.99 for smartphones and $8.99 to $9.99 for tablets.

WellDoc's DiabetesManager is a real-time virtual coach for Type 2 diabetic patients. They log their medication and carbohydrate intake, blood glucose, and other readings into mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Using the patient's data, behavioral algorithms provide automatic, real-time virtual coaching, including reminders to patients about testing, medicine, lifestyle adjustments, and meal recommendations. The advice helps address both high or low glucose readings based on the patient's condition and treatment plan. The data is periodically sent to the patient's doctor to help fill the information gap that often develops between office visits and facilitate the disease management discussion. Various health plans offer the tool to their patient members free of charge.

DrChrono, an iPad-based electronic health record system, lets clinicians input patient histories and physical exams, do e-prescribing and patient scheduling, convert medical speech into text, and add X-rays and other images. It also provides a template for SOAP notes--the traditional Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan approach used to keep track of patients' course of treatment in many medical settings. DrChrono also can make use of an iPad's video recording capability, letting clinicians add an on-the-spot photo of a skin lesion or a video of an abnormal gait or facial tic, for instance. DrChrono is free to about $800 per month, depending on the number of features the user chooses.

This app provides information on thousands of prescription medications and hundreds of over-the-counter drugs, as well as other capabilities, such as medical calculators. It's one of the most widely used medical apps; almost every doctor has it. It's available for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile. Epocrates RX is a basic free version. Souped-up versions start at $99 per year. Epocrates Essentials Deluxe at $199 per year provides evidence-based treatment information, treatment guidelines, lab preparation and interpretations, a medical dictionary, and ICD-9 and CPT codes. You typically start with a search, say for skin conditions like melanoma, where you can look at pictures, get etiology about the condition and information about related conditions, and then you can drill deeper and get even more information on those conditions. It also provides guidance on what to look for in terms of patient history, what tests to order, and treatment options for every size, shape, and type of patient.

Targeted Therapy Finder--Melanoma is a free, Web-based decision-support app that helps cancer patients and oncologists identify the best tests, treatments, and clinical trials for the type of skin cancer a person has. The app was created through collaboration between software services firm CollabRX and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and runs on mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads. It asks doctors and patients a set of questions and then helps them narrow down the promising treatments and clinical trials associated with the patient's specific subtypes of melanoma and other characteristics.

No time for dictation breaks? This mobile recorder lets doctors dictate reports on the go to an iPhone and wirelessly upload reports to Nuance's speech recognition transcription platform. The mobile recorder works with Nuance's eScription speech recognition engine, which transcribes the material and creates draft reports that can be incorporated into electronic health records. In the past, poor audio quality kept physicians from using mobile phones for dictation. The Dragon recorder overcomes this problem, Nuance says, providing more reliable dictation capture. The recorder uses Wi-Fi and 3G networks to upload doctors' dictations for processing. The Dragon Medical Mobile Recorder app can be downloaded for free at iTunes. A subscription to Nuance's eScription platform is also required; pricing varies depending on usage.

This $5.99 app is a must for every medical provider who treats Spanish-speaking patients--and that likely covers a vast number of medical professionals. Word Magic's dictionary runs on the iPhone, the iPod Touch, BlackBerry, HP-Palm, Android, and Windows Mobile. It's not your everyday translator, providing more than 235,000 entries, more than 331,000 translations, and 232,000 synonyms. While it's really for translations, as a bonus, you get definitions in both languages. These translations aren't only written; the app provides audio translations as well. The dictionary covers various Spanish dialects (international, European, Latin American, and Mexican). Muy bueno.

No doctor has time to look at an app during an emergency, but this $5.99 app is a great preparatory and reference guide for anything related to medical emergencies, from intubation to triage to advanced cardiac life support to poison and overdoses to respiratory distress, stroke, and spinal injury. There are Spanish translations, pediatric assessments, and lab values.

UpToDate is an online database of medical information, essentially an online library of textbooks in about 17 medical specialties. It's updated about every three months, which makes it stand apart from hard-copy textbooks, which typically are updated every three to five years. Although it doesn't have a standalone mobile app, it's available through any mobile device that has Internet service. The app is priced from $195 to $495 per year for individuals. Site licenses for groups are available.

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