Moving on from Epocrates: your options | webOS Nation

Moving on from Epocrates: your options

by Riz Parvez Mon, 20 Dec 2010 10:29 am EST


With the unfortunate and oddly-timed announcement that Epocrates will be ceasing to support webOS early next year, individual healthcare practitioners as well as enterprise managers in hospital systems may be wondering whether webOS devices are a viable option for them moving forward. Well fellow providers, take heart! As it turns out, there are plenty of fantastic medical reference resources still available on the platform. Read on for a tour of all the tools you can still put in your "doctor's bag."

Lexi-Comp ON-HAND Lexi-Comp ON-HAND: The folks at Lexi-Comp stepped forward Facebook to reaffirm their ongoing support of webOS. This is heartening because even when first released last year, Lexi's solution (read our detailed review) had significantly more depth of information than their now-departing competitor. Also, with the RAM bump of the Pre+, TMC/Memory handling issues are no more. In revisiting the app since that review was written, fit and finish have certainly improved. The rubber-band side-scrolling issues have been addressed, and load-times throughout are much better. The bottom line still remains, Lexi-Comp's depth makes it feel like "med school in an app." Lexi-Comp's reference app is available for free as a 30-day trial, after which yearly subscription packages start at $115, with vendor or facility discounts also available.

Pepid PEPID: A lesser known contender, PEPID is also a full-featured cross-platform medical reference suite, with detailed information suites tailored to Emergency and Primary Care physicians, PA’s, NP’s and EMT’s, as well as a myriad of different packages and guides for RN/LPNs. In addition, they offer a standalone pharmacy guide, student guides, and healthcare licensing exam prep materials through the interface. While the trial was limited to their toxicology reference materials, I found the depth of information to be quite good. Navigation however was a little more cumbersome than in Epocrates or Lexi-Comp.

Outside of those two more comprehensive options, there are a slew of excellent lightweight (and often free) medical reference and utility apps from Dr. Alan Teh, (palmdoc on Twitter) is a Malaysian physician who specializes in hematology-oncology & stem cell transplantation, uses a Pre, and is a vocal evangelist of the webOS platform. He's crafted several specialty webOS medical apps:


Drugview: this free app is a fast way of accessing multiple online drug formularies. Following Epocrates’ departure announcement, Teh added back a mobile view of the Epocrates database to Drugview. So if Epocrates was your end-all be-all, this’ll get you there much quicker than the browser.

MediPDA: a comprehensive set of medical calculators, organized by subspecialty.

OncoPDA: a collection of Heme/Onc algorithms. (Did I mention Teh specializes in Hematology/Oncology?)

Dosecalcfree: Need a quick check of MG/KG dosing? This is the app for you. A convenient lightweight app designed to use calculate dosing by BW or BSA using a persons height and weight.

Stroke: a standalone app for calculating NIH Stroke score. Big buttons with no scrolling make this very easy to use in the clinical environment, and each question has an info button with extensive detail on scoring the item.

eMedicine Viewer

Eponyms: A classic from the days of Palm OS, this app (which was indispensable to me during med school) provides rapid access to definitions of over 1,700 medical eponyms.

eMedicine Viewer: an app which provides rapid access to eMedicine's expansive library of medical topics

ICD-9 and ICD-10: Quick reference for ICD billing codes.

As you can see from the list above (which isn’t exhaustive), even today there are lots of fantastic applications available. and Lexi-Comp have also mentioned more great stuff on the way:

Shots2010: From Dr. Teh, this Ares-built app is likely familiar to former PalmOS and Windows Mobile users. It provides a quick reference for the 2010 immunization schedule. It’s currently in private beta with a plan to be released for free into the app catalog when complete.

Classic Porting: It’s obvious that Teh continues to be active in the community. His future development plans are focused on porting over useful Palm OS medical apps that were previously only accessible via Classic.

Lexi-Comp Updates: In speaking with Lexi-Comp, they note that active work on their webOS application continues, including a hybrid version with faster performance and a better user experience in the next month or so. How's that for commitment?

So there’s plenty of excellent medical applications available to the webOS user. Even without spending a penny all of the information Epocrates had provided is readily available. Heck, even the paid disease reference information Epocrates never brought to webOS is more than made up for by the offerings from Lexi-Comp and PEPID.

What’s more, with the release of stacks in webOS 2.0, the smaller, single-purpose apps are able to shine like never before. This is important because no one wants to be sitting in the ER waiting while their doctor is scrolling through a launcher and loading apps. With webOS 2.0, clinicians are able to create ultra-efficient stacked workflows with all the tools they’ll need for a clinical encounter running and visible on one screen before they even enter the room. When you think of it that way, is there a better platform to use as a physician than webOS?

Don’t get me wrong, the impending loss of Epocrates is a significant blow to medical professionals using webOS. Their app was stable, fast, and intuitive where it really counted: in the field. While I truly can’t fathom what reason Epocrates would have for making their departure announcement less than a month before CES, announce they have. Time will tell what comes of it.

I continue to hope that there are calls being made from HP to Epocrates trying to bring them back to the fold before they leave for good in February, but even if they do depart it’s comforting to know that there’s a wealth of resources still available to help us webOS users working in healthcare get the job done right.