Much Anticipated UpToDate App

This article was originally published by iMedicalApps.

UpToDate is the go-to reference for physicians at all stages, covering over 8,500 medical topics that are authored, edited, and reviewed by over 4,400 expert clinicians. To be honest, I don’t know how I could have gotten through my intern year without turning to UpToDate almost daily for assistance with diagnostics and management, as well as to learn more about my patient’s illnesses.

In my last night float shift at the VA alone, I used UpToDate to learn about the intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) seen on CT in my patient with pancreatitis symptoms, how to approach my post-CABG patient with hypertriglyceridemia, how to interpret the EKG in my patient with a dual-chamber pacemaker, and how to decide whether I should consult pulmonary for a bronchoscopy in my patient with possible tuberculosis.

In short, UpToDate is a comprehensive, physician-developed, evidence-based (over 385,000 references), widely-used (almost a half-million subscribers), continuously-updated, pharmaceutical-free, and illustrated resource. Until now, it was only available for mobile devices via an unwieldy webapp. Now, UpToDate finally hit the iPhone as a native iOS app , and here we review this much-anticipated mobile application for the iPhone.

The home screen of the UpToDate App opens with options for Search, Calculators, Settings, Bookmarks, History, and “What’s New.” The bread and butter of UpToDate, of course, is utilizing the search function to learn more about a specific topic, whether it be an illness, procedure, or medication.


Here we search for GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Note the dynamic search – similar to what we are used to on the traditional online application — that offers suggested topics as we type what we are searching for into the search pane. Upon clicking on “GERD,” the app offers a list of applicable topics.

Note different tabs along the top for All, Adult, Pediatric, and Patient topics. Pediatrics topics are, obviously, quite useful for pediatricians or family physicians concerned with children, while patient topics offer UpToDate information in a manner suitable for patient learning, another terrific feature of UpToDate. I often rely on UpToDate to help patients better understand their illnesses.

Clicking on a representative topic – here, the medical management of GERD in adults — displays links to contributors, when the topic was last updated, and a quick link to “Summary and Recommendations” before an outline of the topic’s contents.


Of course, the contributors for UpToDate are experts in their respective fields, and this topic on GERD is no exception. Including an opening link to the topic summary is a nice touch of the app, and includes UpToDate’s well-known strength or grade of its recommendations.

The outline allows for quick navigation to a particular section of the topic by clicking on the section of interest. Like the traditional online version, the app includes embedded references that can be clicked on to view abstracts, one of the features I love most about UpToDate—its basis on and easy navigation to the primary literature.


Another strength of UpToDate lies in its inclusion of figures, tables, algorithms, and pictures that are incorporated into its topics, and the app version is no exception. Here is an algorithm incorporated into the aforementioned topic on GERD. Note how it can be zoomed and panned within the app.

Yet another navigation tool within the app are the windows accessible from the bottom right corner within a topic. Clicking here brings up links for topic graphics, related topics, topic calculators, and topic references, facilitating even faster navigation. Moreover, in addition to the quick links for the home screen (in the bottom left corner) and the search function (in the top right corner), the outline/text toggle in the center of the bottom bar allows for quickly returning to the topic outline. Clearly, the developers have put a great deal of effort into making the UpToDate app easy to navigate, and appear to have succeeded.

The Calculators function is not a feature I frequently use in the traditional online application, but is highlighted here in the app version. The many calculators can be browsed either alphabetically by calculator name, or sorted by specialty. However, there is no dedicated search function.


A quick look here at the MELD (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) calculator shows that it is easy to use, reliable, includes notes which describe the calculator, and features the particular formula used in the calculator. Upon a quick review, it appears that this calculator function in UpToDate may very well hold its own against our previously reviewed top free calculators for the iPhone.

The UpToDate App also includes bookmarks and a history function for quick recall.

Finally, the UpToDate App highlights a “What’s New” feature from the home screen, which discusses new developments in particular fields, complete with references and topic links.


An individual subscription for UpToDate (which includes the ability to install the UpToDate App onto the iPhone) runs $195/year ($0.53/day) at the trainee rate, or $495/year ($1.36/day) otherwise, with discounts for longer-term subscriptions.


Nothing matches UpToDate when it comes to updated medical references. It’s comprehensive, peer-reviewed, reference-oriented, illustrated and pharm-free. The smooth user interface has easy dynamic searching and impressive navigation.


Pricing: UpToDate will cost you, as noted above, for its considerable resources. While eagerly awaited by many residents and medical students, institutional subscribers do NOT yet have access to the iPhone App version. While the offline version of the UpToDate App is set to debut later this year, this current version can sometimes take several moments to load topics.


You can bet that this UpToDate App will make the next edition of our Top 10 Apps for Internal Medicine Physicians. Simply put, it might be well-worth an individual subscription while waiting for institutional subscriptions to include mobile devices (no date has been set yet).