It’s been a little over a year since the first WebOS device, the Palm Pre launched so I thought it is time we did a little review of what medical apps there are for the medical user who is looking to maximise the potential of his or her device, or if there are medical users out there contemplating getting a WebOS smartphone. I have had a Palm Pre for 9 months now and during this time, it has been a delight to use and I have not had any hardware problems. The keyboard slider remains rock solid (no “Oreo” effect for me) and I do not see any cracks in the casing. I think US consumers should seriously take a good look at WebOS smartphones – the Palm Pre/Pre Plus or Palm Pixi/Pixi Plus – since these are now available for the three major carriers: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. You have a modern operating system which is great at multi-tasking, works very well with the “cloud” and Synergy just pulls in all your contact information together nicely for you from your Outlook Exchange/Google Contacts/Facebook/LinkedIn contacts. The messaging and software notifications are a class above all the smartphone operating systems. What may be a concern for some is the relatively small App Catalog size compared with the Apple App Store and the Android marketplace. Well, doctors will tell you size does not matter. What matters is the quality of the apps and whether or not the platform has the apps you need. So without further ado, lets run through what WebOS has to offer for medical users. For the purpose of this review, I shall be linking the apps to MyAppBox which is one of the great sites out there which enables users to browse WebOS apps from their PC, view download counts, user comments and ratings (the other sites I recommend are Cyrket , WebOSRoundup and PreCentral ). The last one has Homebrew apps which complement those officially available from Palm. One more thing, the official Palm apps are available via the App Catalog but there are also apps distributed as Beta and as Web distributed apps where they can be installed (as can all WebOS apps) via Web links)
Epocrates is the grand-daddy of medical drug references for PDAs and smartphones. It was first available for PalmOS then made it’s way to Windows mobile and more recently the iPhone and now Android and WebOS devices. The native WebOS version has just been updated to 1.2 It is freeware and has all the basic features you would expect from Epocrates – drug information, interaction checker,Pill ID and also a compendium of medical calculators. After you download the app, you will be required to sign in to your Epocrates account (registration is free). The application design is very good, and after the first time initialization of the database, it is fast and very efficient. You can search for drugs or browse by categories. Features like “Favorites” and “history” add to the applications usability. The database resides entirely on your device so an Internet connection is not required to use the application. Notably lacking is the availability of Epocrates Essentials (but since this is a paid subscription I am sure this will come in due course) and also Mobile CME. I also wish in the future, drug data updates will be available OTA rather than having to update the entire program. All in all this is a 5 star app for me. Price: Freeware.
Lexi-comp On Hand has arguably the most detailed and comprehensive drug databases out there. There are adult and pediatric databases, AHFS as well as drug databases for nursing and dental users. Apart from standard drug databases, you also can download references for Lab & Diagnostic Procedures, Infectious diseases, Pregnancy and Lactation, Natural products, Harrison’s Practice, Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, 5-Minute Clinical Consult and more. The basic interface is a clean Filter/search List view and like Epocrates is also very fast. Unlike Epocrates however, the databases are updatable OTA. The program is listed as free, which is true, but the databases are available only as a 30 day trial, after which one has to subscribe. They are not cheap, starting at $75 for the basic Lexi-drug database. I rate this as 4/5 for a great app, the only downside I see being as a having pricey databases but kudos to Lexi-comp for giving the 30 day trial for you to test if it is worth it.
Pepid like Lexi.comp is more than a drug database. While it gives you access to a database “that includes 7,500 drugs”, it also is a medical suite with access to a drug interactions generator, dosing calculator, differential diagnoses etc. Pepid for WebOS gives you a free Toxicology module to evaluate. The interface is fast and makes use of WebOS features well. When one accesses a page of information, I notice there is a pop-up menu which takes you to the different sections on the page. While it is useful, it can be annoying so I wish Pepid would provide an option to turn it off. Apart from the Toxicology module, Pepid also provides one with some freebies (accessible from the bottom bar) like an Interaction checker and basic calculators but these appear to require an Internet connection. Pepid subscribers will be glad to know that they have a native WebOS application. As I am not a subscriber I could not evaluate all the features of Pepid for WebOS but feel free to add your comment here and let us know. Overall I thought it is a decent product with a good design. I give it 3.5 stars/5. It would have rated more if not for the Internet requirement for some critical features like the calculators and Interaction checker.
DrugView as some of you might know, started off as a Homebrew app, made by myself and SirataXero from the PreCentral forums. This was at the time when there was no drug reference from Epocrates or other software companies yet. We made a simple search tool to look up drug information from the freely available online databases such as drugs.mobi, epocrates online, rote-liste.de, mims.com and wikipedia. When the official Epocrates for WebOS was launched, we removed the search option for Epocrates online at Epocrates’ (polite) request. You need an Internet connection to look up the drug information but the advantage of this app is that you can quickly search the other online databases for each drug. I can’t rate my own app, but the average rating from users is 4.8/5 and it has garnered over 10,000 downloads since it was launched as a Web distributed app (and over 18,000 downloads in Homebrew ). It’s completely free so go check it out.