The medical apps section on the iPhone and iPod Touch has a lot to offer, this is apparent from the medical app reviews we’ve done on this site. When I think about my most heavily used medical apps, one that comes to mind has to be my Wikipedia app. Obviously, Wikipedia is no complete substitute for reference applications such as Epocrates, or the Merck Manual Professional Edition. But if used properly, it provides a great service.
The problem is finding a suitable Wikipedia app to use. I’ve tried a number of free Wikipedia applications and have found one that really helps me find the medical information I’m looking for the best.
Its no secret that Wikipedia has been used extensively by those in the medical community to look up medical information and understand topics better. I use it most when I begin researching a topic or if I need to find the mechanism of action for a drug. The reference section is my favorite part of Wikipedia. It’s a great way to find excellent journal articles and other medical resources. The best way to utilize Wikipedia is to read up on the legitimate reference articles provided. Clearly, you don’t want to use Wikipedia for actual clinical decision making, rather as a portal to finding articles from reputed sources.
There are three main Wikipedia apps that are free. Wikipedia Mobile, Wikiamo, and Wikipanion. Wikipedia Mobile is actually made by the Wikipedia people so one would think they would do a better job than these other two apps, but not so. I’ve tried all these Wikipedia apps extensively, but my favorite Wikipedia application has to be Wikipanion. Many of the other free Wikipedia apps offer the same features as Wikipanion, but Wikipanion’s fluid user interface is why it’s the best.
Key features that I use the most:
- Ability to to E-mail out current article, Search Within the Page, Bookmark, and other comprehensive choices for each Wikipedia entry. Often I’ll bookmark key articles to view later when I’m out of the hospital or clinic.
- Application opens to the last screen you were viewing before you close the app.
- The Contents page provides a great summary of the Wikipedia entry, making it significantly easier to navigate and get directly to where you want to go. In this case, looking up the mechanism of action via the Pharmacology section.
- No advertisements
- The references are properly linked within the article, and clicking them opens up safari, often providing you a peer reviewed source of data. In this case, a paper on the side affects of Statins.
This layout of Wikipedia is somewhat emulated by UpToDate.com, often considered a legitimate medical source. Just a word of caution, UpToDate is almost always on point, but sometimes the references they use can be from questionable articles, so just like any source, make sure the information you’re using is synthesized from a reputable article or book.
That said, UpToDate is a great source for medical providers and I’ve definitely used it plenty of times in clinic and in the hospital. You can use it on your iPhone or iPod touch via mobile form if your academic institution or private practice has a subscription. They’ve done an excellent job of making their site compatible with the Safari browser in the iPhone OS. At the end of the day though, its fair to say we’re all waiting for a legitimate UpToDate app, much like the Wikipedia apps for the iPhone that have been mentioned above.
The development team at Wikipanion also offers Wikipanion plus, for $4.99. This version allows you to download entries directly to your iPhone and other features. Although these add ons are nice, I’ve found the free version to be sufficient for everyday use.