1) The Skimm (Free – $2.99)
The Skimm is a daily email that contains a condensed version of the latest news. It hits my inbox at around 5:30 AM and I read it religiously before walking out the door in the morning. This email covers natural disasters, politics, current events and pop culture references just like any morning news show, but everything is shortened into a paragraph per story or less. I use the Skimm as a way of glossing over the most major news stories of the day. So why is the Skimm important for medical students? It provides the fodder to make small talk with your patients, whether it be the sports game you missed yesterday because you were studying or the awards show you had no interest in watching. Being a personable doctor isn’t just about studying and knowing the latest research, it’s about being approachable and being able to converse with your patients.
Also you may be asking how does an email subscription make my list of Top 10 apps? Well good news! The Skimm does have an app in case you want more news coverage or want to search stories by topic (like No Excuses, a new series covering Healthcare Reform). The first month of the subscription is free, and then it is $2.99 a month from there on.
2) Diagnosaurus ($4.99)
Want to look like a rock star on rotations? Get this app! Diagnosaurus is an app by McGraw Hill (you may know them as the company behind pretty much all your text books from high school through medical school) that provides a list of differential diagnoses. Simply download the app and you can search by symptoms, sign or diseases and be provided with a list of possible diagnoses, associated conditions and a link to read more. So next time you’re on rounds and your attending physician asks for a possible cause of new onset dysphagia, you’ll cover all your bases when you can list off potential mechanical, infectious, or structural etiologies. The app itself is free, but many of the conditions and symptoms are only accessible on the paid version.
3) MD Calc (Free)
Quick! Calculate the V/Q Mismatch for the patient in room 14. While you’re at it what is the anion gap for the patient in room 7? I know we spent months memorizing equations leading up to boards, but if you’re like me the equations have kind of all blurred together. I don’t have the brain space to memorize all the equations and with this app I don’t need to. You need this app. You can save favorite equations and when you log on you can select your specialty (or current rotation) and it will auto-populate equations most frequently used for the type of patients you will encounter. It also has a desktop version so it is useful to have bookmarked on your work computer
4) UpToDate (Varies)
UpToDate is the resource database that clinicians use. It is a compilation of physician authored evidence-based journal articles. This is a fantastic resource to find succinct articles on almost any medical topic. This is the place to start looking when looking up off-label use of drugs, new developments in a specialty, or you want to impress an attending by understanding the indications for, procedural steps, and complication risks for an upcoming surgery you’ll be scrubbing in on. This is also a fantastic resource to refresh your knowledge on a certain condition, drug class, or lab test.bAll articles are peer reviewed and the database is constantly updated.
$199 for a 1 year subscription, $369 for a 2 year subscription.
5) Epocrates (Varies)
This is the most user friendly app that compiles all the resources a healthcare professional may need. I use this app to review prescription drug dosing especially for pediatric dosing and to check for black box warnings and/or monitoring. The pill ID tool is useful for identifying the mystery pills without a label a patient is carrying in her purse and the interaction check feature is useful when prescribing a new medication to a patient’s med rec.
One of the most under-utilized features, in my opinion, is the “ICD-10 Codes” section. If you have ever had to write an assessment for a patient you know how difficult it can be to find a simple code for a patient who fell or a patient who is having a new onset rash to a prescribed medication. This feature allows you to search by partial code, diagnoses or procedure. You can even save a list of favorites for codes you use frequently!
Another great feature of tools is the lab section. I use this tool to look up a list of differentials to explain an abnormal lab value. This can be especially useful if a patient is on a drug that has the side effect of altering lab values.
If you only download one app off this list make sure it is this one!
6) Figure 1 (Free)
Visual learners rejoice! This app is a compilation of real-world medical cases shared from healthcare professionals from around the world. These cases are everything from the classic presentation of a typical Malar rash to a rare cardiac abnormality. These images are a healthy mix of cases shared for the purpose of teaching and those that are shared for feedback from other professionals to develop a more thorough list of differential diagnoses. Aside from images of patient’s you can also review lab values, EKGs, and radiology. (including the ability to scroll through CTs and MRIs)Imaging is divided by both anatomy (Ear pathology versus respiratory . pathology, etc.) and by specialty (Infectious Disease versus Emergency Medicine).
7) GoodRx for Doctors (Free)
This app is great for being able to save your patient some money on their prescriptions. When I was on my outpatient internal medicine rotations I was surprised by how many patients were non-compliant with their medications because they were unable to afford a prescription each month. I was so happy to have found GoodRx because it compares the price between local pharmacies and shows all coupons available from the manufacturer. This is a resource that can be utilized by both insured and uninsured patients.
To learn more about this program, check out this video below!
8) Teach Me Anatomy ($4.99)
This app is great for a quick anatomy refresher before a surgery or presenting a patient. The app has categories divided by region (head, neck, thorax, etc) and each region is then subdivided by bones, soft tissue, muscle, nerves, blood vessels and other miscellaneous (often the bonus “pimp question” facts all in one place!). This app is great because it is well organized and it is easy to find exactly what you are looking for. Each subcategory has a small section of introductory text and then has bright photos which are clearly labeled followed by a bullet list of information about the structure pictured. Unless you are an anatomy rockstar who can remember all the minitua from your Gray’s Anatomy textbook, this app will serve as the perfect refresher for all of your anatomy questions. If you are just looking for a general refresher or want to test your knowledge there is also a “quiz” section which allows you to pick a topic and the number of questions you want to answer.
9) Doximity (Free)
Think of Doximity as a LinkedIn and a social media network made for doctors. This platform was created by the co-founder of Epocrates (see #5) and is open to all verified health professionals (fear not medical students, that means you too!). On the app you can network and search for job opportunities as well as catch up on the latest trending articles in the world of medicine. One of the great things about this app is that allows for HIPAA secure communication with other physicians and a “Doximity Dialer App” which allows you to call patients without revealing your personal phone number. There are also opportunities to earn CME credits by reading content on the app.
10) Medibabble (Free)
Medibabble is a free, professional-grade medical translation tool. While it would be nice if all hospitals had a translator in house or even a translation phone available, but as most medical students know that isn’t always possible. This app is fantastic. It breaks down history taking into chief complaint, HPI, past medical, surgical, and family history, and the app is entirely free. Right now you have the option to download 7 different languages and more are said to be in the works!
Disclaimer: all these images were screenshots from the apps themselves. I do not own any of these images, nor do I take credit for any of the content.