He says mobile applications could be used to provide access to care in underserved, rural areas in the United States and in remote parts of the world. "Even in the most remote parts of the world, they have cell phone coverage. They may not have hospitals or clinics, but they have cell phone coverage."
As one might imagine, smartphone devotees are eager for more apps that can increase their productivity. Eads predicts that future apps will be more interactive. Rather than being a source of information, they may one day be able to aid physicians in diagnosis. For example, perhaps a physician would one day be able to take a picture of a patient's rash and have an application analyze it.
Snyder predicts that there will be more smartphone reference applications and decision support tools that fit into a physician's workflow in the future.
"The myth has always been that doctors are technophobic," she says. "They really aren't technophobic; you just need to have a technology that fits the way a doctor practices. That's why mobile technology is perfect. A doctor is moving around. They're going between the hospital, the office, and their home. The mobile device fits into the physician's workflow."
Top Medical Apps (per iTunes as of 7/9/2009)
There are numerous medical applications available for smartphones. While some of the applications fit perfectly into her practice, Eads says that others are more specialty-driven. "There are some that are specifically for ER docs or urologists," she says. "A lot of the primary care docs could use those, but I don't know how useful they would be."
Eads says that she tries to minimize the number of applications that she uses so that she doesn't have too many options from which to choose. "I try to whittle it down to things that I use day in and day out."
The top ten medical applications available for in the iTunes App Store are:
1. Epocrates: A fee drug reference containing information on more than 3,300 drugs, including dosing, adverse reactions, pricing, and pictures. Also includes drug interaction information and performs medical calculations.
2. Skyscape Medical Resources: A collection of free medical information and decision support resources for healthcare professionals.
3. Speed Bones Lite: An app that lets you test your knowledge of bones.
4. MedCalc: A medical calculator that contains a wide array of medical formulas and scores.
5. EyeChart: A mobile Snellen eye chart that can provide useful screens for rough visual acuity.
6. Eponyms (for students): Short descriptions of medical eponyms, such as Rovsing's sign and Virchow's node.
7. Relax with Andrew Johnson Lite: A stress reducer that teaches relaxation techniques that can help with pain control, insomnia, post traumatic stress disorder, and other stress symptoms.
8. uHear: A mobile hearing loss screening test that lets you test hearing to determine if it is in normal range.
9. Skyscape Rx Drugs: Provides dosing guidelines on brand and generic drugs and includes weight-based drug dosing calculators.
Police Scanner: For healthcare professionals who like listening to police scanner frequencies. The app is the 10th most popular in the medical category.