Jump on the BlackBerry Bandwagon

July 11, 2007

BlackBerry wannabes, come join the rest of us.

BlackBerry wannabes, come join the rest of us.

Many doctors may shy away from using Pocket PCs and Palm devices because they feel they are “too complicated.” As a BlackBerry owner, I completely understand not wanting to give up a device that provides full PDA capabilities and outshines all others in terms of e-mail functionality. However, unless you are willing to carry around a separate device, you’ve been left out of the portable medical software loop for a long time.

Just try telling yourself you haven’t been missing out on much… until now. Skyscape has just announced the release of more than 450 medical resources, covering 35 specialties, for your BlackBerry.

These resources span a wide variety of medical information, including clinical titles, drug and lab guides, specialty-specific publications, guidelines, health plan formularies, continuing medical education (CME), and breaking medical news and alerts. Not far behind are CME 360 and Medstream. No definitive word yet on whether CME 360, or MedAlert will take advantage of the BlackBerry’s “push” technology, but I’m sure the goal is to take advantage of it as much as possible.

Where to Shop

To get the books from Skyscape, the process is much the same as on the Pocket PC and Palm, with one major exception: you don’t install the titles directly from your computer. Rather, they are purchased on Skyscape and downloaded using the BlackBerry reader after receiving a registration code. You will then be prompted for a Skyscape username and password and must open an icon and choose “Install new title.” You will then be prompted for a serial number. That’s it! If there is an SD card on your BlackBerry with enough available space, the programs will install to the card by default. The reader however, must be installed into the main memory.

So how does the software compare to its brethren? I tried multiple titles, including Current Consult Medicine, Labs 360, Washington Manual Psychiatry Survival Guide, and Archimedes 360. All of them opened swiftly and operated without any lag. Bringing up a menu allows you to link to any other titles you have installed on your device the same way you would with Pocket PC or Palm. Thus, while reading about a medical diagnosis, you can easily look up something in another text, link to a calculator to compute your patient’s anion gap, for instance, or flip to “Labs 360” and look up normal values. Charts and graphs look fantastic. The only option I didn’t see is note-taking, but I am told that feature will be implemented soon.

For the Weary

Those who don’t want to install any software on their handheld device can access Unbound Medicine.While Unbound offers a wide variety of software that you can install and take with you, they also offer wireless access for a few select titles. If you have wireless access on your device—any device—including, but not limited to, your BlackBerry or the new iPhone, you’re in luck. The software will automatically detect the device you are using and adjust the layout accordingly. The advantage to connecting wirelessly to such information is that you always have the latest version. Some of the titles that Unbound offers wirelessly include Davis Drug Guide, Emergency Central, and Medicine Central (with your choice of 5-minute Clinical Consult, Harrison’s Manual of Medicine or Current Consult Medicine).

So BlackBerry users, I strongly encourage you to head over to Skyscape and see what you’ve been missing out on. And those yet to climb on board, I have to ask, “What are you waiting for?”