Epocrates finally fights back, review of their iPad app

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Purpose of App Review

To evaluate the newly updated, iPad-optimized, universal iOS Epocrates app.

Introduction

Epocrates has long been the undisputed king of mobile medical apps, with their reign dating back to the heyday of the Palm Pilot.

Bewilderingly, Epocrates had largely ignored the iPad, which many medical professionals have quickly embraced since its 2010 release.

Consequently, the Epocrates app slowly fell by the wayside, as medical professionals began migrating to other options.

In this review, we will explore the long-awaited, newly updated Epocrates Essentials app complete with iPad-optimization.

User Interface

Epocrates’ iPad app has a very nice user interface that makes full use of the iPad’s larger screen real estate. The home screen neatly lays out all the options available in the app, including drugs, diseases, interaction check, labs, pill ID, calculators, tables and ID Tx selector–among others.

The drug section is divided by specialty and drug class. I find this to be very helpful as a trainee because I can quickly pull up a number of drugs from the same class to refresh my memory of available treatment options before I decide one. The monographs contain the most pertinent information including pill photographs, though it still doesn’t have a section for drug mechanism of action, a key feature in competing products such as Lexi-comp and Micromedex.

The disease section also lists diseases by specialty, and includes information on a differential diagnosis, history, physical exam, tests, treatment options, follow-up and images. It is by no means a comprehensive resource on each disease, but this information is certainly convenient to have.


The interaction checker also works simply and elegantly. Users can add a large number of drugs to the list, while the app detects any possible drug interactions. Drugs can even be added while browsing the drug section.

The labs section lists an enormous number of labs, with organized information on details including reference range, interpretation, and collection details.

The pill ID section is slick. By entering information such as the pill imprint, shape and color, Epocrates will pull up a number of pill pictures that fit the description, enabling the user to quickly identify the pill.

The calculator section, though clean and attractive, has a relatively small selection of formulas compared to dedicated apps, with notable absences including Well’s Criteria, CURB-65 and the TIMI risk score.  It would not be the first place to look when in need of a calculation or score.

The table sections lists a number of useful tables for each specialty, but like the calculator section, it is by no means comprehensive.

The last section we’re going to highlight is the ID treatment selector, which lists a number of infections of different parts of the body, and corresponding choices for empiric and specific therapy.

Epocrates’ long-awaited iPad app is very good. The user interface is clean, fast, responsive and simple to use. The tabbed browsing allows users to quickly refer back to previously-viewed content, compare drugs by switching back and forth between tabs, and quickly export drugs to the interaction checker. The best part about the app is the flow; everything seems to flow smoothly and naturally which makes using Epocrates for iPad a pleasure.

It has been a long 2.5 years since the iPad was first released, an eternity in the world of technology (definitely hoping iPhone 5 optimization doesn’t quite take that long). In that time, many users have already moved on to look for other solutions for their iPad medical needs. Has Epocrates done enough to woo them back? That is a difficult question to answer.

Epocrates for iPad is undoubtedly a polished and slick app that stands by its own merits as an excellent resource for point-of-care medicine. However, many users will have already found other apps to satisfy their needs in the meantime, some of which may be free of charge (Epocrates Rx is free, but Epocrates Essentials is a $159.99 per year subscription, which includes the disease and lab tests sections).

It may be difficult for many users to justify the subscription fee for a product they may have long left behind. For those willing to give Epocrates another chance, they will find that the new innovative iPad app is a joy to use.

Price

  • Free (Epocrates Rx)
  • $159.99 per year (Epocrates Essentials)

Likes

  • Brand new innovative user interface
  • Slick tabbed browsing, pill ID and interaction checker
  • Smooth flow makes the app a joy to use

Dislikes

  • 2.5 years late
  • Subscription-based

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app

  • Physicians, residents and medical students from any specialty, nurses

Conclusions

  • Epocrates for iPad is a fine return to form for the industry veteran. While it boasts an innovative user interface and smooth flow, it may come a bit late for many users who have moved on.

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

Rating: (1 to 5 stars) 4.5 stars
User Interface: 5 – Clean, fast, attractive and smooth flow
Multimedia usage: 5 – Great use of pill and disease photos, tabbed browsing
Price: 3 – Free for basic version, $159.99 subscription otherwise
Real world applicability: 5 – Has the potential to be heavily used at point-of-care

 

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.

Discussion ( 5 comments ) Post a Comment
  • I think people should be aware that Epocrates is full of pharmaceutical industry propaganda.
    They admit it themselves

    http://www.epocrates.com/who/partners
    but also see
    http://adage.com/article/news/big-pharma-finds-doctors-pockets/104651/

    There is a huge conflict of interest inherent in this app. It’s a resource to avoid.

  • I have been using the iPad specific Epocrates since its release and thoroughly enjoy it. I have used the phone version since this August, the start of my M2 year. It’s a helpful app that i have used for solidifying correct treatment/test options for diseases for our written exams and clinical cases. I’m not sure if i would pay the subscription price though. I was given a free year of the Essentials and when that runs out i might switch over to PEPID Clinical Rounds Companion. PEPID CRC boasts the DDX generator among other options that seem helpful for a soon to be M3. Have you personally tried PEPID CRC? I can’t find much info from simply doing a search. Thanks

    Hillhucker Subscriber
  • I have been using epocrates for years. The ipad version is the extension of a great product. I congratulate the epocrates staff for designing a database that is so user friendly.
    I’ve been using the pill pictures with patients for a long time now, and they are always satisfied when they can identify their medication.

  • While a student Pepid’s CRC was an invaluable “all in one” resource, but Medscape was still very new and not fully developed into the app it is today. If I were a student now, I would have to seriously weigh the cost/benefit of dropping so much money on CRC. I also had ePocrates Essentials as a student and it’s content was poor compared to Pepid. Now, I will never pay for ePocrates while Micromedex and Medscape exist for free as they are superior products. The free ePocrates is only useful to me for the pill identifier.

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