Top 10 free iPad Medical Apps

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Make sure to also check out our new list of the “Most Innovative Medical Apps of 2012 — the Future of Mobile Medicine”

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As the Editor-in-chief of iMedicalApps, I have witnessed first hand the transformation of the iPad in medicine.

When the first iPad was launched more than two years ago, I did an in depth review from a medical perspective, and concluded the iPad was not a slam dunk for medical professionals. Rather, I felt the iPad’s place in medicine would largely depend on the quality of medical apps available:

“Does this mean medical professionals should go out and get the iPad…Not necessarily…The iPad is only as good as the App Store”

The quality of the medical section of the App Store for the iPad has cemented its place in medicine. Arguments can be made about getting an iPhone verse an Android device, but there is no tablet that rivals the iPad’s medical section for healthcare professionals. And because of this, the iPad has proliferated in medicine and with physicians. There are a series of studies backing up the rapid proliferation of the iPad in medicine. For those of us in medicine, we see anecdotal examples of this everyday in the hospital and clinic setting.

With this analogous proliferation of iPad medical apps, sorting through them can be an arduous undertaking, mainly because many of the iPad apps in the “medical” section are not for medical professionals and miscategorized.

The editors at iMedicalApps have gone through the free medical apps available for the iPad, and we have chosen 10 free medical apps that healthcare professionals can utilize. These apps range from simple drug reference apps to 3D virtual reality medical apps that make use of the iPads accelerometer. Unlike many other so called “top-10″ lists, this list is not based on the most downloaded apps in the medical section of the App Store.


  • Over 2,500 free medical apps were browsed using iTunes.
  • Apps were selected for potential inclusion based on their usability as deemed by the Editorial Staff at iMedicalApps.
  • iPad apps that have already been reviewed on iMedicalApps were looked at closely for inclusion on this list.
  • Over 300 medical app reviews have been written or edited by the Editors at iMedicalApps, and based on this vast experience apps were ranked according to voting by the editorial staff.

Exclusion criteria:

  • Apps that require in-app purchases.
  • Apps with “Lite” versions.
  • Apps that require subscriptions to use. This did not apply to Journal apps that provide partially free content.

At the time of publication, the apps mentioned in this compilation piece are free, this status can always change based on the developers of the apps.

Before proceeding to our top 10 list, we encourage our readers to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We regularly announce app and product giveaways through these mediums, as well as providing breaking news and updates on key medical apps.


  • The following list contains videos demonstrating the apps in action, showing how the apps can best be utilized in the medical setting. In order to view these demonstrations, you have to be a registered iMedicalApps member. We encourage you to become a member — it’s free and takes less than 30 seconds to do.

1. Medscape

Once again, Medscape is the top free iPad medical app. The Medscape app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times in the App Store, and with good reason.

The App’s Drug Reference section is arguably the best in the App Store. Many of our readers have commented how this app has replaced the prior “go-to” drug reference app — Epocrates.

Along with drug reference information, the app contains an Interaction checker, News, and CME education.

Unlike many other medical apps that are merely expanded versions of their iPhone counterparts, Medscape has done a great job of building their app specifically for the iPad. This is evident with the comprehensive search functioning, allowing you to quickly look up a drug or how to do a lumbar puncture with lightening speed.

The app also enables users to have offline access to its contents. Crucial for providers who don’t have a wireless plan for their iPad or for those who don’t have a dedicated Wi-Fi connection to count on.

One of the more subtle surprises of this app is the ability to look up herbal drugs — something you’ll be pressed to find with any other free drug reference tool.


Medscape iPad medical app

iTunes Link

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Discussion ( 28 comments ) Post a Comment
  • I am interested in creating a medical application for an IPAD. How do I find a programmer?

    James W. Baker MD
  • What is the best DICOM viewer app that you’ve used? (free or fee)

  • Epocrates (Palm version) allows one to search the drug or alternative med database by indication or reported uses, side effect, contraindications, pregnancy codes, lactation coded, and notes (which you have entered for a particular drug). Is this extensive search and note capability available on any other medical app?

    FJamesKing Subscriber
      • Our hospital has become a teaching facility for our local medical school and we are required to have iPads. I also own a toshiba thrive android tablet. Both tablets environments are fantastic . My android tablet has full sized USB ports which i use for watching video cme and google android apps are rapidly catching up to iphone ipad

        iTunes is loaded with video lectures from a wide array of medical institutions. The lack of flash video is an iPad drawback, but I use an app called Iswifter which allows most flash videos to be played on iPad, but hands down androids flash capablities are a HUGE advantage for android tablets…..
        iPad seems to rarely crash or freeze up, android a bit more often…
        Comparable Android tablets can be purchased for $ 200.00
        Less which makes android very appealing.

        Good that we have two major competitors, as consumers benefit in the long run.

  • I am surprised that these apps are made for a dying format. Android is outselling iPad and the margin is growing. Also, there is a strong growing dislike of Apple because of the stunts they pulled with their Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion operating systems, and a term they implies backward thinking, “Apple Think”.

    Also, there are too many backdoors in Apple software that makes folks very uncomfortable.

    Making an iPad app is like making something in Beta video tape.

    But I like the concept.

    For me the only thing an iPad is good for is target practice, but each of us has their own taste.

  • I was looking for some exciting apps for pediatrics to install on my iPad. After a long search I found below app which looks great but I need your review about this app before going to buy the help. Any suggestion highly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • Very good list but it about time the FDA and UK and other start vetting aps like medical treatments and devices before deaths are reported due to a fake, bady writern or miss typed information in a app ~ I am trying and shouting about this before any parent health is affected

  • Is there an app that you can use to obtain an active electrocardiogram in real time?

  • I have been asked to search for apps that are appropriate for patient education in cardiovascular, pulmonary and stroke populations. With the pay for performance plan becoming a reality in healthcare, we need to be more effective in increasing our patients health literacy level and I am hopeful that there are apps to help. What can you suggest?

  • Just want to know how it works

  • Have you reveiwed any translation apps for use in a healthcare setting? Similar to the ones for travel or business but with particular aptitude for health care vocabulary. Thank you.

  • What is the typical economic model of these free applications? Are people really doing all this great work on a volunteer basis? Or are these products grant based? Or is it a quality free service that on ramps to other paid services? Or are they advertisement supported? Each product may have a different answer so perhaps you could make overall comments and then comment specifically on Medscape. By the way, you offer a great service in curating medical apps like this.

    scott colesworthy Subscriber
  • very Informative.

    Can anyone suggest an alternative to Ipad for using windows based (xp, 7 or 8 ) Dragon medical dictation (I have 10.1 medical version) preferably with the largest screen tablet and a big RAM but very light and portable like IPAD?

  • Tried to get this for my ipad but my app store doesn’t have it. Even tried it with my iphone – no dice. Guess its gone. Too bad.

    Timothy Horn, MD

    Timothy Horn Subscriber
  • Is there a medical app for the Kindle Fire HD?

  • I don’t want to learn code but I do need to learn how to brief an app developer.

    Does anyone have a template or tips they’d like to share?

    Thanks :)

  • I searched for the draw MD app on my Iphone and did not locate the app. Any suggestions?

  • I am using Epocrates on my iPad now and it works great. I find it very quick to use while seeing patients to look up prescription dosages and alternative drugs to use for specific illnesses. E. Torres, MD

    Elizabeth Torres, MD

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