When the Apple App store launched, it initially did not have a ‘medical’ category like we see today. As a result, doctors and other allied healthcare professionals had no easy way to find the latest medical apps.

Apple soon recognized their mistake and added a separate category to cater to this growing group of users.

Today we see a similar problem with the iBook section of the Apple App Store.

iMedicalApps has covered the launch and subsequent growth of iBooks extensively as we believe they have huge potential. Recently, the iBook store has stagnated somewhat and there are some serious flaws which need to be addressed to ensure this potential resource does not fail.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 09.19.16

The biggest issue is the lack of a dedicated medical category on iTunes. As you can see from the screenshot, there are a decent number of categories. However, there are no obvious locations to put medical textbooks.

This has a number of implications:

  • Clinicians and students do not know where to look for medical iBooks
  • Developers are not clear where to categorize their iBooks
  • There is a continually growing collection of iBooks which are miscategorized

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 09.18.17

In my research trying to find medical iBooks, I came across a number of interesting facts:

  1. There is no dedicated medical category within the textbooks section
  2. The most popular section for medical texts is the Science and Nature tab, although Textbooks is also popular

It is my belief that other measures are required to maximize the utility of medical iBooks. For starters, it is a huge relief that Apple is now allowing iBooks to be read on the Mac. Kindle has had this ability for a long time and it shows significant disregard that this feature has only just been announced, and will be shipped with Mac OS X Mavericks.

Secondly, a number of educational institutions have started developing and releasing iBooks for their medical students and developing custom widgets. It would be great to see a central place for custom widgets hosted by Apple to further enable easy development of interactive textbooks. Thirdly, Apple needs to find a way to bring interactive iBooks to the iPhone so that there is equitable access for all.

In summary, well designed medical iBooks offer an easy straightforward way to create engaging interactive content by clinicians. As such, Apple needs to take note of the growing demand for medical iBooks and release a dedicated medical category within the App Store.