Post image for BlackBerry Playbook Review: Finally, a 7-Inch Tablet for Doctors ?

In April of this year, I made a friendly wager with a friend that the Blackberry Playbook would be the bestselling iPad competitor of the Spring/Summer.  My justification looked something like this: a) consumers are looking for smaller, more portable tablets and b) Blackberry has a faithful (yet dwindling) consumer base.  I did concede though that Android tablets would, as a category, outsell the Playbook.

I purchased my Playbook with high hopes for its 7 inch form factor: small enough to carry around on a daily basis, yet large enough to comfortably display websites and replace papers/books I carry in my white coat pocket. Read on to find out whether my search for the ideal hospital tablet ended with the Blackberry Playbook.

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Post image for Physicians, Pharma, and “free” medical apps

The medical app industry is a big business, but the apps are no longer the product – the physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers who use them are. In the first part of this series, we examined some of the financial forces driving the medical app industry. Our focus then was Epocrates, the veritable founder of the industry. As is clearly stated in their recent SEC statement, Epocrates primary revenue stream has become the pharmaceutical industry and as such a key goal has become to further grow their user base by enhancing their free offerings.

Now, one might be tempted to say that this is just one company or even that it is just limited to free apps. An expected counter-example would be Skyscape, which probably has the largest cache of apps of any developer and nearly all for fee. As a private company, there isn’t much financial data available nor is the website particularly forthcoming, but it does appear that the company has been enjoying some success. A deeper look however suggests they in fact have more in common with Epocrates than you may think.

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Post image for UCLA mobile monitoring system may improve outcomes for heart failure patients

By: Ankur Gupta, MS2

An acute exacerbation of heart failure is not much different from drowning, except in this case the fluid filling up the lungs is due to back pressure from a failing left ventricle. In many cases, these episodes are preventable – and with 670,000 sufferers of congestive heart failure and an annual cost of $29 billion, prevention is critical. And as any internist or cardiologist knows, successful prevention hinges on effective outpatient monitoring and management, which is far easier said than done.

In May, the UCLA School of Nursing along with the UCLA Wireless Health Institute published a study on a system to remotely monitor for symptoms indicative of CHF related decompensation. Dubbed WANDA, the system uses wireless devices to track weight, blood pressure, activity levels, and the Heart Failure Somatic Awareness Scale (HFSAS). The goal and idea are simple enough – catch early signs of an exacerbation, intervene, and keep patients at home.

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Post image for USMLE Step 1 Déjà Review is great for content review but less so for test simulation

With so much of a medical student’s future at stake, it’s natural that preparation for the USMLE can be big business accompanied by big expenses.  While we were fairly impressed with Kaplan’s USMLE Mobile Step 1 Qbank and accompanying app, we were less impressed with the price of admission which boiled down to an expensive rental fee.  The Qbank subscription fee even prompted some of us to reminisce about the halcyon days of the previous millennium when money plopped down for education meant receiving a hardcopy textbook with the information contained therein forever in one’s possession.

At $24.99, USMLE Step 1 Déjà Review is a significantly cheaper option than Kaplan’s offering, with the bonus of knowing that the 4518 concepts presented within are yours in perpetuity, provided that you’re still using an iPhone in the future.  I’ve deliberately used the word “concepts” over “questions” for a reason; while Kaplan’s offering consisted of meticulously designed USMLE-style questions complete with multimedia, Déjà Review felt more like a large stack of flash cards.  While 4518 physical flash cards would be a nightmare to go through, this app provides the organizational framework that enables students to go through sections methodically, or randomly quiz themselves.
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Post image for The mobile health technology boom in South Africa might not be as flashy, but may be more effective

In South Africa, there is no shortage of diversity. Immigrants, natives, city-dwellers and tribal members share a landscape that ranges from cosmopolitan to provincial. However, even in rural areas where basic infrastructure may be lacking, people can now stay connected to family and keep up on global events through their cellphones. Thus, the mobile technology boom has led to a leap-frog effect on communication.

Now, taking advantage of this mobile infrastructure, South Africa has started to roll out a series of new projects aimed at improving access and lessening the burden on the health system.
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Post image for AT&T pilots a cloud-based medical image system

Recent advances in cloud computing will revolutionize how individuals and companies store and access data. The “cloud” has many implications for mHealth, with the potential to increase efficiency and cut costs for both patients and providers.

Last week, AT&T announced that Baptist Health System in Alabama and Henry Ford Health System in Michigan have signed on to pilot the new cloud-based medical imaging and information management service. With this system, physicians will be able to access images quickly, regardless of which device took the image. AT&T claims that this system will both lower costs for health systems and increase physicians’ access to diagnostic imaging.

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Post image for Master the abdominal exam with a new medical app from Answers in Medicine

A strong abdominal exam is a must-have clinical skill for an aspiring healthcare professional.  Diagnoses spanning cirrhosis, appendicitis, hernias, peritonitis, aortic aneurysms, and cholecystitis, for example, can be suspected and even made via abdominal exam.

Unfortunately, secondary to factors which include an increasing dependence on imaging and other diagnostics, time constraints in the practice of medicine, and fewer chances for bedside instruction in medical education with work-hour regulations, physicians rely increasingly less on their physical exam skills today than has been the case in the past.

In that manner, here we review the Answers in Abdominal Examination App, released in May 2011 by Answers in Medicine.  Answers in Medicine, which specializes in presenting medical content via short modules in audio or video format for healthcare professionals, has developed a number of medical apps, including Answers in Alcoholic Liver Disease, Answers in Ulcerative Colitis, Answers in Crohn’s Disease, Answers in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Answers in Dyspepsia, to name several.

As you may surmise, Answers in Medicine represents a prolific developer of Gastroenterology- and Hepatology-related content, and boasts an impressive collection of contributors from major academic medical centers in the United Kingdom.  This app, in particular, was created by Owen Epstein, Professor of Gastroenterology at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Read below the jump to learn more about how the Answers in Abdominal Examination app can help you master the abdominal history and physical exam.

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Post image for Why “free” Epocrates and Medscape aren’t really free medical apps for Physicians

Medical apps are becoming big business. Epocrates is now a publicly traded company worth nearly $500 million. Medscape is owned by WebMD, another publicly traded company worth nearly $3 billion. Despite the clearly powerful financial factors at play here, the most popular and comprehensive apps are free. Even for fee-based apps, the prices and volumes don’t explain the overall financial pictures of the companies behind them. Clearly the money is not coming from the physicians, medical students, and other healthcare professionals who are using these apps.

In the past ten years, there has been a growing movement to restrict marketing of drugs to physicians by pharmaceutical companies. As a result of programs like the PharmFree project, traditional marketing avenues like free samples, sponsored dinners, and so on have become far more limited. And so naturally, pharmaceutical companies have looked to new avenues through which to reach physicians.

So what’s the connection to your favorite apps?

Epocrates was one of the first medical apps, a mainstay on the Palm devices of physicians over a decade ago, and remains one of the highest quality and most popular medical apps available. In the past, access required a rather substantial subscription fee. However, recent company filings note that the subscription base has shrunk substantially, with far more users opting for the free app. And yet the company is recording tremendous growth. A statement in the companies recent SEC filing makes it clear how:

Through our interactive services, we provide the healthcare industry, primarily pharmaceutical companies, access to our user network to deliver targeted information and conduct market research in a cost-effective manner.

These targeted services include the features that many users have seen develop in recent years. DocAlerts are short clinical updates which can be sponsored by pharmaceutical companies (e.g. Lipitor manufacturer Pfizer sponsoring an alert related to heart disease); the virtual pharmaceutical representative service allows physicians to reach companies for drug samples and product information; formulary hosting for insurance companies allows physicians to identify coverage for medications they prescribe. (read more)

Post image for Pfizer’s mobile & web based clinical trial could attract a more diverse patient population

Pfizer has announced the first “virtual clinical trial” pilot in the US that will utilize mobile and web technology to assess the safety and efficacy of Detrol LA, Pfizer’s extended release treatment for overactive bladder.

With this pilot, Pfizer hopes to improve the efficiency of clinical trials while cutting costs by having participants report results remotely, without having to visit trial sites. The REMOTE project (Research on Electronic Monitoring of OAB Treatment Experience) will attempt to replicate results of a traditional Phase IV study that Pfizer completed on the same drug.
A mobile based clinical trial has the potential to greatly improve the drug testing process for both patients and pharmaceutical companies. Recruiters could target much more diverse populations, including those who have traditionally been excluded because of factors such as travel to and from clinical appointments.

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Post image for NYU medical centers implement biometric patient identification, why physicians should love it

As anyone who has visited a doctor’s office or emergency room knows, there is an ample amount of paperwork to fill out; ranging from registration to medical history to insurance information.

While this information is necessary especially for initial visits, for those who are going for repeat visits to the same doctor’s office or emergency room, it can seem tedious and redundant.  For those hoping for a solution, the answer can be found right in the palm of their hands.

In an attempt to improve patient safety and cut down on the possibility of miscommunication, NYU’s Langone Medical Center has introduced PatientSecure.  The biometric technology from HT Systems allows NYU to utilize vein-scanning technology – which the vendor claims is 100 times more accurate than fingerprinting – to identify patients.

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At iMedicalApps we have experienced tremendous growth over the last year, and are now the most popular mobile medical publication written by health care professionals. To help with this growth and to manage the many new exciting projects we have in the pipeline, we are looking for summer interns to help!

Some of the responsibilities:

  • Manage the content that comes from our team of writers
  • Help manage upgrades to the website, prioritizing tasks and tracking deadlines
  • Help with creation new types of content, such as webinars, and manage activities with our content partners
  • Help with other new projects iMedicalApps is in the process of launching

What we’re looking for:

  • Self motivated individuals
  • Ability to seek opportunities and set goals — if you need close supervision, this is probably not a good environment for you, we are a start up after all
  • Medical background is preferred, but by no means a deal breaker
  • An understanding of the nuances of mobile technology — If you’re not a tech enthusiast then this isn’t for you
  • Strong writing skills are essential

What you’d get out of it:

  • Opportunity to get an inside look into the burgeoning sector of mobile medicine
  • Opportunity to be part of a rapidly growing start up
  • Paid internship
  • We’re looking to hire a part time / full time employee(s) this fall, and this could be a gateway to that position.

If interested, e-mail us your resume and why you’d like to contribute to: contact [at] imedicalapps [dot] com ; or use our contact page.


Post image for Genetics 4Medics presents a focused approach to genetic diseases, but may have limited utility for most practitioners

The field of genetic medicine is growing at an exponential pace as a very specialized field that requires its practitioners to integrate basic science, thorough familiarity with ongoing research, and clinical knowledge. While manageable for a specialist, it is a field that is poorly understood and applied by many other healthcare providers.

Genetics 4Medics by Apps4Medics Ltd presents an app that attempts to present an often-confusing set of diseases in a simple and easy format.  Accessed through the iPhone, the developers created this app with medical students and physicians in mind.  However well-meaning their intentions, would the app deliver to the everyday clinician?

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