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Alternatives to Epocrates Video Review

Epocrates has been my go-to drug guie since medical school. It has changed a lot since then, but remains one of the friendliest, fastest drug guides available. If you simply want a free drug guide, Epocrates remains an excellent option.

However, there really is no such thing as a free lunch. Epocrates has a close relationship with pharma, as we have highlighted previously, “Why free medical apps aren’t really free“. They are now also owned by Athenahealth, an EHR and patient management company. Epocrates also has a premium version that costs upwards of $175. This premium version includes additional apps including a medical calculator, point of care tables, alternative medicines, infectious disease guide, and a disease content section developed in conjunction with the British Medical Journal.

For a long time, Epocrates was the only option and so a lot of us use it as a default. The field has gotten more crowded in recent years and so its worth thinking about what all the options out there are. The following medical apps are the best alternatives to Epocrates.

Lexi-Comp

For the most detailed and complete drug information available you can’t go wrong with Lexi-Comp. This app really shines when I am on the wards and need more detail about a particular medication. For day to day clinic use, I find Lexi-Comp a bit too detailed and complex to quickly get to the information I want. Lexi-Comp doesn’t come cheap, but many institutions provide free access to Lexi-Comp for their providers so make sure to check with your medical librarian or hospital pharmacy. The complete version of Lexi-Comp includes multiple embedded apps including guides for toxicology, infectious disease, natural products, 5-minute clinical consult, and many others. Lexi-Comp also is embedded into UpToDate. If your institution has UpToDate, you will not need to purchase it separately. Lexi-Comp does not offer a free version.

The following table breaks down the pricing structure for LexiComp:

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Micromedex

An outstanding and significantly cheaper alternative to Epocrates Essentials or Lexi-Comp is Micromedex. This app may be available to readers via institutional subscription, but can be obtained on its own for a small annual fee. Micromedex provides a similar level of detail as Lexi-Comp on issues such as pharmacokinetics that are missing from Epocrates. However, I find the user interface and graphics to be a step below the alternatives. Micromedex also offers a premium version like Epocrates Plus or Lexi-Comp though it is geared for the hospital and health system level and includes clinical decision support, active surveillance, and medication management. If you just want a cheap, fast drug guide, it is hard to beat their almost free basic version. Finally, Micromedex is now embedded in the recently launched Dynamed Plus which we recently reviewed.

Medscape

The more I use it, the more I like the Medscape app. It really is a true Jack-of-all-trades app. It includes a comprehensive drug guide, clinical reference, news aggregator, and CME. The drug guide and interaction checker is as easy to use as the one found in Epocrates (and more popular in the iOS App Store). The app itself is free, but remember that many apps including Medscape share user information with the pharmaceutical industry. The best part is that the entire app can be used offline. The Medscape app is a great alternative to Epocrates for basic drug dosing and drug interaction checking. The app’s medical news and CME sections rival its competitors, but the medical reference still falls short of finding the most up to date, evidence-based answers to questions at the point of care. But unlike Epocrates Plus and Lexi-Comp, you get all of this for free.