3 Great iPad Apps for Public Health Professionals

Epocrates v2.5

Tablet computers have now become entrenched in the medical field.

The first versions of the portable computing devices were considered to be mostly entertainment devices. Advances in processors and screen resolutions made them intriguing for medical app developers. Their widespread adoption in education and business promoted the development of apps for public health professionals. Here are the top three apps used in medicine today.


Epocrates started out as free software for handheld computing devices back when the screens were LCD monochrome displays. The software has evolved as the devices grew exponentially in computing and display power. The latest version is an app for the iPad.

Epocrates offers a free prescription app that is unlike any other resource available today. They also offer paid apps. The free Rx app is an interactive drug reference database that has information about both prescription and over-the-counter medications. The reference offers information about adult and pediatric dosing, contraindications and warnings, and it has a drug interaction check tool to use when considering adding a new drug to be used by a patient. The database is continually updated, and even has a full color pill identification resource. The best part is it is free to download and use.

Epocrates’ paid apps include Essentials. It is a full set of clinical reference tools that has both drug and disease monographs. At a glance, it provides busy clinicians access to treatment guidelines. It also includes full information about lab tests including cost information for patients without insurance or who have large deductibles or co-pays. Essentials is just one of 28 medical apps that are highly useful to those who practice medicine, and Epocrates is highly respected and offers only the best professional medical apps.

MedCalc Pro

Offered in many languages, MedCalc Pro is a professional medical calculator that has been around for over 10 years. It offers a full suite of medical scales, formulas, scores and classifications. Whether a doctor or other practitioner needs to calculate anything from an absolute neutrophil count to a Wells Score for PE or DVT, MedCalc handles it all.

The app supports both U.S. and the International System of Units (SI). Results can easily be shared by email, printed on a connected printer or copied to be pasted into a document. Results can also be saved for a patient and accessed later. MedCalc was made by medical doctors Pascal Pfiffner and Mathias Tschopp.

Visual DX

Visual DX offers free iPad access to paid users. Harvard Medical School has Visual DX listed as one of the “top five medical” apps in use at their school. It helps doctors diagnose diseases. With a database of over 25,000 images, the app provides clear visual examples and diagnostic help to reduce errors in diagnoses with disease classifications ranging from dermatological to metabolic in nature. Doctors use the diagnosis search tool along with the Differential Builder to construct a differential diagnosis for a patient to reach a diagnostic conclusion.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of applications available that claim to be relevant medical tools. Not every app is useful, and possibly not even safe, for medical doctors and other practitioners to rely on. The old adage of, “you get what you pay for” often applies. The exception is the free drug reference tool from Epocrates. Of course, it is offered free as an enticement to purchase the paid apps. However, its design and reliability is truly professional. Always research the company behind medical apps and keep redundant confirmation in mind when it comes to relying on any information.

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Diane Green is a healthcare administrator who also contributed to the Top 10 Best Online MPH Degree Programs as a resource for people interested in furthering their education and taking advantage of the convenience of online programs.

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