When you think of medical apps, one of the first that comes to mind is Epocrates. A popular drug reference app going back the age of the PalmPilot, its now one of many drug reference apps that clinicians can choose from. Here, we’ll look at the latest version of Epocrates to see how it stacks up.
Access to the basic Epocrates app is free, though there is a paid version available that contains an ICD-10 code lookup, compilation of clinical treatment guidelines, and a diseases database with medical information on a range of conditions. Those features are visible on the home screen, but locked to use in the free version.
Epocrates is best known for its extensive drug database. Users can search for medications by generic name, brand name, or using a list of conditions. Searching by condition yields a list of medications by drug class that can be used. Treatment options are listed in alphabetical order rather than by first or second-line usage.
Drug information in Epocrates includes adult and pediatric dosing, contraindications/cautions, side effects, drug interactions, safety and monitoring recommendations, pharmacology, and photos for easy identification of the medication. Indications are included in the dosing section. There is a section on Black Box Warnings where an exclamation point will appear if the drug labeling contains a warning. Manufacturer and pricing information (provided by GoodRx.com) is also listed. One nice feature is a section of ‘alternatives’, medications that can be substituted for the specific drug. There is a formulary option as well, however, only one option (BCBS of MI) was available at the time of this review.
One of Epocrates’ handiest features is the drug interaction checker. Medications are listed by the user, then the total number of interactions with all of the drugs is shown, along with how many occur in specific drug pairs. Further information shows clinical significance and appearance of the interaction.
Another useful feature is the pill identifier. Users can enter any combination of information about the unknown pill and find potential matches with photos for further identification.
Additional sections in the free app include a picture quiz, clinical calculators, tables, a provider directory, and a connection to promotional information on the AthenaHealth EHR.
The picture quiz is a fun way for clinicians to test their knowledge on unusual case presentations. Occasional sponsored activities are included which give the user an opportunity to interact with the promotional material and may result in a free one-month upgrade to the Plus version of the app. It’s worth noting that participating in a sponsored activity could mean your information gets shared with the sponsor.
Epocrates Plus contains a useful compilation of guidelines, an alternative medication database, a general medical disease monographs with suggested treatments, recommendations on infectious disease treatments with links to the drug database entries, a small section on lab interpretations, and an ICD-10 code lookup.
The guidelines section is fairly comprehensive and would be helpful for clinicians working in primary care, internal medicine, or family practice. The cost to upgrade to Plus is a bit steep at $174.99 per year but may be a great resource in which to invest; though that will depend on what resources individual users already have access to.
Epocrates is one drug information app for every clinician to have and use. Designed specifically to be used at the point-of-care, the app contains reliable, comprehensive drug information without a lot of extraneous material to wade through. Prescribers can find what they need regarding drug dosing, interactions, adverse effects, and pharmacokinetics quickly and easily without losing a lot of time with their patients. Additional features, including clinical calculators and a pill identifier, are great tools for use in most practice settings.
- Free; Plus version: $174.99
- Drug dosing recommendations
- Interaction checker
- Pill ID
- Plus features are great but too costly
- Pharmacology info is better than in past but still somewhat limited
- Some information is referenced but no sources given for much of the info in the app
Epocrates continues to hold its place as a must-have drug info app for healthcare providers or students. Continually updated, reliable, comprehensive info in the free app is spectacular. The addition of the Plus features makes the app truly exceptional, though the additional cost may not be worth it.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
Easy to use and navigate. The one downside is it often requires several ‘clicks’ to get to the information.
- Multimedia Usage
Picture quizzes are fun. Some video features included in the sponsored activities.
Basic features in the free app may be all some clinicians ever need, but the cost for the Plus version could come down a lot.
- Real World Applicability
Quick, easy, and reliable for use in a busy clinician’s day.
- Device Used For Review
iPhone 6s and iPad Air 2
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad