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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2016

There's an App for That

HealthCare Apps: What Professionals in Healthcare are Using

Arian Abdulla
Science and Engineering Librarian
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama


The first handheld mobile phone was introduced in 1973 by Motorola (Lippi 2011). Since then, mobile phone technology has evolved at an unprecedented rate. Smartphones, as well as tablets, have had a tremendous impact on healthcare fields, enabling doctors, clinicians, and nurses to access information in new and innovative ways. This column familiarizes librarians with the latest apps that medical professionals use for patient education, clinical practice, and research. Many apps promote healthy living by enabling access to tools such as calorie counters, medical references, physician or hospital locators.

Mobile Devices -- Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare professionals are discovering that mobile devices and apps are not just gadgets, but tools that can be used in many different ways to improve medical and administrative tasks. They can increase communication with patients, and provide easy access to information at point of care. Numerous surveys and studies show use of mobile devices among medical professionals. A study conducted by Bulletin Healthcare found the following mobile device usage among specialties (Physician Mobile Use 2011):

Specialties Mobile Device Usage (%)
Physician Assistants 41
Emergency Room Physicians 40
Cardiologists 33
Urologists 31
Nephrologists 31
Dermatologist 30
Gastroenterologists 30
Psychiatrists 28
Optometrists 28
Radiologists 24
Rheumatologists 22
Endocrinologists 21
Oncologists 20
Clinical Pathologists 16

Overall growth in mobile health app usage is expected to continue. According to a 2015 research report, by 2018 50% of more than 3.4 billion tablet and smartphone users will have downloaded mobile health applications on their devices (Mobile Medical Applications 2015).

This review is by no means a comprehensive list of all healthcare apps, however it outlines some that are used extensively. It features both free apps and those accessed via a subscription from your university or college library.

Healthcare Apps

This app helps medical professionals identify clinical and preventive services that are appropriate for their patients. This app is available on Apple and Android devices.
BrowZine Subscription
BrowZine is an app by ThirdIron for accessing and reading content from academic journals that are available from your university or college library. One can add specific journal titles to a bookshelf and read them on their mobile device. BrowZine is a free app to download and available on both the iPhone and Android devices. Once you start the free app, you will be required to enter your institution password to access the academic journals.
Calculate by QxMD Free
This app is developed by collaboration of clinical experts from different backgrounds. It includes over 200 unique calculator and decision support tools. It is a free app available on Android and Apple devices. Internet access is not required.
The Critical Appraisal Skills Program was developed at Oxford in the 1990s. CASP provides a way to critically appraise the medical literature. It provides a glossary and the average number of patients that need to be treated to prevent one additional bad outcome (NNT) and Post-Test probability calculators. In addition, it allows users to save and share appraisals in PDF format.
CINAHL Subscription
CINAHL stands for Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature. It is the largest and most in-depth nursing research database. CINAHL provides full text for over 730 journals, and indexing for over 5,000 journals from the fields of nursing and allied health. The CINAHL mobile app is a simplified search engine for the CINAHL database and it is available for both Apple and Android devices, and you can access CINAHL from your institution’s library.
ClinicalKey Mobile Subscription
ClinicalKey helps medical professionals locate and use clinical information quickly to answer questions and to keep up-to-date with changing healthcare issues. It provides over 1,000 electronic reference books and 600 electronic journals, 17,000 videos as well as drug information and practice guidelines. Content is indexed daily to ensure the decisions are made based on the most current evidence.
Diagnosarus DDx Free/Paid
This is a great app from Unbound Medicine that helps explore over 1,000 Differential Diagnoses by symptom, disease or organ system. It is available on both Android and Apple platforms.
Docphin Free/Paid
The Docphin app can be used to search PubMed and follow journals. One can set up alerts and receive a weekly email summarizing trending articles. Articles in a PDF format can also be downloaded directly from the app. Docphin is a free app and available on both iPhone and Android devices, however one can upgrade to premium accounts for $14.95/month.
Doximity Free
Social networking app for physicians and physician communication. It is available on iPhone and Android devices. Doximity is free for licensed doctors and medical students in the USA.
DynaMed Plus Subscription
DynaMed was founded by physician Dr. Brian Alper. It is an evidence based clinical resource for use at the point of care. DynaMed covers over 3,200 topics and monitors over 500 journals. It is constantly updated to reflect the latest clinical evidence. DynaMed available for both iPhone and Android devices. You can access DynaMed from your institution’s library or as an individual subscriber.
Epocrates Free/Subscription
Epocrates includes over 1,000 prescription medicines and over 100 of OTC products, formularies, drug interactions, pill ID and calculators. Epocrates is a free app and available on both the iPhone and Android devices. For additional information such alternative medication one must upgrade to Epocrates Essentials for $159.99.
MedCalc 3000 Complete $9.99 for iPhone app
MedCalc is a medical calculator that gives easy access to over 520 complicated formulas, clinical criteria sets, and dose/units converters. It is used every day by clinicians, nurses, educators, and students.
Medscape Mobile Free
The highlights of this app include: drug references, clinical references with over 4,000 diseases. It is available for free for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
Micromedex Drug Essentials Subscription $2.99/year
Micromedex provides clinical information from drug, disease, and toxicology information to comprehensive resources for patient and consumer education. It is available on both iPhone and Android devices. If your institution has already subscribed to Micromedex this app is included in the subscription and is free a charge. Unlike most applications, the device does not have to be connected to the internet and you can use it anywhere.
PubGet Mobile Subscription
PubGet is a search engine for life and health science articles, indexing nearly 20 million research documents including those in PubMed. It delivers PubMed and full text journal articles straight to your device. It is available on iPhone devices.
Skyscape Clinical Calculator Free
Skyscape Clinical Calculator app provides the latest clinical information for more accurate, informed decision making at point of care. Key features include: Over 150 of the most common used medical formulas, easy calculator selection via multiple indexes, and use with conventional or SI units. It is available on both iPhone and Android devices.
Stat! Ref Mobile Subscription
Stat! is a free app available on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Through this app, one can access collection of nursing Ebooks, Davis’s drug guide for Nurses, AHFC drug information etc.
UpToDate Subscription
UpToDate is a clinical decision support resource that combines the evidence with expert opinion. It includes more than 10,000 physician topics, and 5,200 unique drug monographs. It is designed to be useful at the point-of-care. It is available on both the iPhone and Android devices. Individual or institutional subscription is required.
VisualDx Subscription
VisualDx app allows medical professionals to search by diagnosis or look up drug induced adverse reactions by medication. It covers over 1,200 pediatric and adult conditions represented by over 25,000 images. Once you create the username and password one can download the free VisualDx Mobile app from the iTunes store or from Google Play. Internet access must be available to use the app.
WebMD Free
The app provides a platform to look up symptoms, treatments, first aid, and basic drug information. It is a free app available for the Apple and Android devices.
ZocDoc Free
ZocDoc app allows to search for physicians near you and book your appointment. It is a free app available for the Apple and Android devices.


Apps have become popular tools among healthcare professionals, providing quick access to medical information that helps in patient education and care. The apps listed are useful to the healthcare community, and to librarians. General readers may also find the technology interesting and useful. It remains to be seen whether healthcare apps will achieve their potential to meet clinical needs, and ultimately lead to a healthier population.


Lippi G. & Plebani M. 2011. Laboratory applications for smartphones: risk or opportunity? Clinical Biochemistry 44(4): 273-274. DOI: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2010.12.016

Mobile Medical Applications. 2015. [Internet]. [Accessed 2016 May 26]. Available from:

Physician Mobile Use Grows 45 percent. 2011. [Internet]. [Accessed 2016 Jan 7]. Available from:

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