Labs

The lab section contains a brief description of the tests, the reference ranges, and more importantly, differential diagnosis for any results given.  The app also tells you how to collect the labs.

Other Functions

A useful function is the pill identification feature, which allows the identity of any pill to be found based on its physical characteristics.

This is extremely useful during clinic or in the Emergency Department when an elderly patient often comes in with a pill box, but with no memory of what they might be on.

There is also a medication interactions feature, which is very simple to use.  The section even contains alternative and complementary medicines.

The MedMath section contains a comprehensive list of quick formulas available to the physician. This is not as comprehensive as the medical calculator provided by Skyscape or Medscape, but has all the common medical calculations you might need for rounds.

Downsides

One thing to note is that Essentials is always in the background on the BlackBerry (even with a hard restart).  However, I’m surprised that I haven’t noticed any loss in battery length even with Epocrates running in the background.

For the BlackBerry, the DocAlert page pops up when there are any new developments (often daily) on drug interactions, recalls, and recent medical information.  However I can’t seem to skip these DocAlerts easily.  I have to read and scroll through all of them, before getting to the home page.

You need a 3G data connection to make full use of the colour images as well as the pill ID features, as those images are stored in a separate server.

Technical requirements

Initial setup requires 20MB, but subsequent updates are quick.

Cost

*Epocrates Rx: Free
*Epocrates Rx Pro: $99/year
*Epocrates Essentials: $159/year
*Epocrates Essentials Deluxe: $199/year

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why so many physicians use Epocrates on the Blackberry.  The app is simple, fast, reliable, and allows access to useful up-to-date medical information that can be used at the point of care.

Epocrates Website: Epocrates for Blackberry