Epocrates acquisition of Modality makes sense while Android users could be left out in the cold

Epocrates, the venerable medical reference company, has bought Modality – a prolific iOS app making company.  With the launch of the App Store by Apple, Modality bet big early by focusing on apps and were the first large company in the medical educational app space – boasting titles such as Netters and Procedures Consult and bringing them to life in a mobile and aesthetically pleasing form.  We have reviewed quite a few of their apps and more often than not come away impressed [click on links for full reviews by iMedicalApps].

Although Modality does boast a wide variety of medical apps, they have worked on non-medical apps as well.  It will be interesting to see if this partnership will cause Modality to focus more on the medical and health care aspect of app making or if they will maintain their non-medical educational component.

This is clearly a move that makes sense for Epocrates. From the press release, it appears they are eager to use Modality’s mobile app development expertise for medical app making – possibly for an iPad customized Epocrates app?  Remember, Epocrates still does not have an iPad customized app. To those who might be unaware, Skyscape came out an iPad customized version of their medical reference app many months ago – currently I defer to Skyscape instead of Epocrates when using my iPad to look up medical reference information.

From an educational component, this deal has huge ramifications for Epocrates.  If you look at the extremely popular MedScape app – it has a large educational component that has helped make it number one in our top 10 free medical apps list.  Modality knows how to develop great educational modules, and Epocrates would be shortsighted not to add educational functionality to it’s app in the future.

Android and other non-iOS smart phone users could be left out

One area of concern for Android and other non-iOS users – Modality is currently focused on making apps in the App Store – not Android. They have apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad, but have not ported these applications over to the Android platform.  Of note, Modality works with medical publishers to bring their content to a mobile platform – they do not create original medical content.

This might be why the apps they have made have not been ported over to the Android platform, but it’s also cause for concern to non-Apple device holders.  This is highlighted even more when you see that Epocrates still does not have a premium version of their popular medical reference app for the Android.

Hopefully this partnership will instead allow Epocrates to focus on the medical content, while Modality can focus on bringing the content to mobile form, not only for Apple devices, but other mobile devices as well.

-Prior Epocrates app review by iMedicalApps

Source: Press Release


Iltifat Husain, MD

Founder, Editor-in-Chief of iMedicalApps.com. Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of Mobile App curriculum at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is also the founder of iPrescribeApps, a platform for prescribing apps to patients. Dr. Husain has given lectures on digital medicine globally. He went to North Carolina State University for undergrad and went to medical school at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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4 Responses to Epocrates acquisition of Modality makes sense while Android users could be left out in the cold

  1. Olivier Forget November 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Does anyone know how many doctors use android devices? In the general consumer space Android is really taking off. But in healthcare it seems to be slower?

    Here’s a starting point: on MedRez.net I’m currently seeing about 15% of recent mobile visits are with Android devices, the rest almost all go to iOS devices. These visits are all from residents or attendings checking their schedules so it’s a representative segment.

    Does anybody else have any data to share?

    PS: what happened to the article Brett Einerson was going to write regarding the difficulties in programming for Android?

    • Iltifat Husain November 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

      Oliver –

      Good question. Not sure of the exact numbers – but your numbers are interesting. What type of sample size are you using? Also, Bretts article is actually now up. Sorry for the delay!

      • Olivier Forget November 20, 2010 at 9:09 am #


        I took a sample of over 1000 mobile visits. Note this is not “unique visitors” — Google doesn’t show me the breakdown of mobile OS for uniques. There are all sorts of reasons why my stats are far from scientific, but I think the conclusion is inescapable: Android is not prominent yet in the medical field.

        Do the imedicalapps stats reveal anything similar?

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