The Top Free Android Medical Apps

January 24, 2011

In less than a year, the number and quality of medical apps for Android smartphones has exploded -- so much so that the Android Market has added a special "Medical" category. Here are the top free apps for physicians and medical students.

This article was originally published by iMedicalApps.

Eight months ago, we published our list of the Top 5 free Android medical apps. Since that time, the Android platform has expanded significantly. The buzz surrounding Android -- exciting phones, expanding market share, more apps, and even a “Medical” category on the Android Market -- point toward the continued presence of Android in the competition for the hearts, minds, and wallets of healthcare professionals and medical students.

The time has come to update and expand the Top 5 free android medical apps list. The original list was not impressive, due to the lack of quality medical apps on the Android platform at the time. However, this new Top 15 free android medical apps list shows the level of quality has significantly increased in the Android Marketplace.

Methods: This list was compiled over a one-month period, from mid-December 2010 to mid-January 2011. Initially, iMedicalApps went through the full "Health and Lifestyle" category in the Android Marketplace -- more than 1,000 apps -- prior to Android making a separate "Medical" category for the app store. Once a separate "Medical" category was established by Android on Dec. 23, 2010, iMedicalApps went through the complete medical category again. Trial apps, or “lite” apps, were excluded from our list.

Inclusion Criteria: Apps needed to add functionality for healthcare providers in at least one of three ways: Point-of-care use, medical education, or patient education. The mobile devices used to make this list were the Motorola CLIQ and the Dell Streak.

This list is not based on top downloaded Android medical apps, according to the Android Marketplace. It also is not based on comments or star ratings from the Android Marketplace. The list was compiled by two fourth-year medical students, and is based on the specific inclusion criteria mentioned above in order to assure actual utility for medical professionals. Of note, some of these apps will not be available on certain platforms of Android operating systems -- especially older phones.

Here is iMedicalApps official list of the top free android medical apps list for healthcare professionals:

1. Medscape.

One of the most-anticipated apps to hit Android, healthcare professionals had been waiting eagerly for this comprehensive medical application. Medscape was just recently released on the Android Market and has already become the No. 1 downloaded medical app for the Android platform.

The amount of free content provided by Medscape is absolutely mind numbing and seems to continuously grow with each update: 7,000-plus drug references; 3,500-plus disease clinical references; 2,500-plus clinical images and procedure videos; robust drug-interaction tool checker; CME activities; and more.

Medscape is a great drug-reference app -- but many don’t realize it’s also a mini-textbook, packed with protocols for disease pathologies -- great for a quick reference and refreshing your medical knowledge. It’s not as detailed as the famous Pocket Medicine Red Book -- but it does a more-than-adequate job of providing clinical pearls from the most common to less common pathologies. On top of this, the application has instructional medical procedure videos and pictures. We recently did a full review of Medscape on Android.

Most Useful For: Healthcare professionals and students.

2. Epocrates.

As we reviewed last February, the free version of Epocrates is considered by many to be an essential drug reference. Useful and easy-to-learn features, such as the pill identifier, several medical calculators, and drug-interaction checker make Epocrates a favorite of clinicians and students alike.

Of note, Epocrates recently announced support for the premium versions of Epocrates on the Android platform. As with other popular and new Android apps, Epocrates is not available for Android users with older operating systems (version 1.5 or older).

Most Useful For: Healthcare professionals.

3. Skyscape.

This app makes our list for two major reasons: First, until recently Skyscape has been the only high-quality, all-in-one type app for Android. Many of the quality android medical apps we have reviewed, such as the Red Book and Netter’s Anatomy have worked within Skyscape’s universal app. Second, the app is available on all Android operating system versions.

By all-in-one, we essentially mean that Skyscape offers healthcare professionals and students access to a robust selection of medical calculators (Archimedes), periodically updated medical news alerts, select practice guidelines, access to paid textbooks (such as Netter’s), and solid drug reference (RxDrugs) and disease monographs (Outlines in Clinical Medicine).

Users of older Android operating systems who cannot access Medscape and Epocrates will find that Skyscape, which includes RxDrugs, is a fair replacement.

Most Useful For: Healthcare professionals and those with older Android phones that cannot access Epocrates or Medscape.

4. Evernote.

Evernote is a great organization tool that can be especially useful for healthcare professionals and students. There are not many quality PDF organization apps on the Android Marketplace, and Evernote shines above most of the paid apps. Evernote allows you to access and read your PDF documents on the go. Other tools, such as notes and image capture, allow you to record atypical disease pathology encountered while practicing for your own reference -- possibly even a future presentation.

Most Useful For: Healthcare professionals looking to streamline PDF collection and capture atypical pathology for educational purposes.

5. Calculate by QxMD.Calculate by QxMD scores major points (and lands on our list) for its aesthetically appealing design and smooth user interface. The collection of medical calculators contained in this Android app is wide enough in scope to satisfy most generalists and students.

Each calculator in the app progresses through a number of screens, often posing a question to the user to determine the score or value of interest. In contrast, most other medical calculator apps have a single screen with numerous input fields. Although this atypical method requires more clicks, it also enhances the learning experience without markedly slowing the process.

Those keen on referencing medical literature will be satisfied that the developers have included citations and PubMed links under the “More Information” tab.

Most Useful For: Primary-care providers, generalists, and students on the wards.

View the complete list of Top 15 free medical apps for Android smartphones at iMedicalApps.