The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (2018) supports the “development of mobile medical applications (apps) that improve health care and provide consumers and healthcare professionals with valuable health information.” About three years ago I wrote a series of blogs
focused on mobile apps, specifically highlighting those centered on health and wellness. At that time, there were approximately 150,000 mobile health or mHealth apps available for download. According to market research and strategy firm Research 2 Guidance (2017) latest statistics, that number has more than doubled to 325,000 in 2017. For nurses, mHealth apps can be a convenient source of evidence-based information, particularly for those working in community settings where access to information is not readily available. But which apps are the most accurate, trustworthy, and reliable?
Nurses should evaluate mHealth apps using several criteria (Airth-Kindree & Vandenbark, 2014):
- What are the author’s credentials?
- Does the developer or publisher have a strong reputation in the healthcare industry?
- Is the app peer-reviewed?
- Who is the intended audience?
- What is the purpose of the app?
- Is it current? What is the publication date?
It is unrealistic for anyone to assess over 300,000 apps individually. While I personally use a handful of mHealth resources in my clinical practice, I turned to the clinical team here at NursingCenter for their expert advice. Here are a few of our favorite apps, all of which are updated regularly and available both through the App Store or Google Play.
- Epocrates: For prescribers, this app includes prescription and over the counter monographs, a drug interaction checker, pill identifier, dosing calculators, formularies, labs, ICD-10 codes and more. Published by Epocrates, Inc. Cost: $16.99 - $174.99 per item.
- Skyscape Medical Library: Contains over 400 resources/titles from leading publishers, authors and medical societies including Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses, Intravenous Medications: A Handbook for Nurses and Health Professionals, Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, ICD-10-CM, and more. Published by Skyscape Medpresso Inc. Cost: $0.99 - $209.99 per in-App purchase.
- Lippincott Nursing Advisor: Written by nurses for nurses, this is a collection of evidence-based practices that focuses on diseases and conditions, signs and symptoms, diagnostic tests, and treatments. Published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. Cost: $0.99 - $29.99 subscription.
- GoodRx Pro: Provides current prices at local and mail order pharmacies, manufacturer co-pay cards, pharmacy and membership programs, Medicare co-pay information and tips for saving money. This app helps support medication compliance and patient satisfaction. Published by GoodRx. Free.
- UpToDate: Clinical decision support resource with evidence-based information. UpToDate has been evaluated in over 30 research studies showing that its use is associated with improved patient care and hospital performance. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health. Individual or Institutional Subscription required.
- Medscape: Provides current medical news, expert perspectives, point-of-care drug and disease information, reference articles, and professional education (CME/CE). Published by WebMD, LLC. Free with registered account.
- MDCalc: Developed by board-certified physicians, this app provides access to over 270 clinical decision tools including risk scores, algorithms, equations, formulas, classifications, dosing calculators, and more to support patient care. Published by MD Aware, LLC. Free with registered account.
- Merck Manual Professional: Provides health care practitioners and students with descriptions of thousands of conditions in all major medical and surgical specialties, covering etiology, pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment. Topics written and updated by over 350 academic physicians. Published by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Free.
- Mayo Clinic: Offers health news and reliable, research-based information on diseases, symptoms, and health procedures. Published by Mayo Clinic. Free
- 3M™Littman® Learning Institute: For nursing students and professional nurses, this app helps improve auscultation skills and provides instruction on how to use the stethoscope more effectively. Published by 3M™Littman®. Free; premium content available with purchase of a Littman® product.
- ASCVD Risk Calculator: Assists the clinician in estimating a patient’s individual 10-year risk for Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) and provides guidance on a customized intervention plan. Published by the American College of Cardiology. Free.
- Nurse’s Pocket Guide: Helps clinicians make nursing diagnoses and develop care plans. 440 medical diagnoses include the definition, related factors, defining characteristics, interventions, Nursing Intervention Classification/Nursing Outcome Classification (NIC/NOC), and documentation guidelines. Published by F.A. Davis and offered by Unbound Medicine, Inc. Cost: $48.99 per item.
- NCLEX-RN Mastery: Supports students preparing for the NCLEX exam with over 2000 practice questions, quizzes, mnemonics, and strategies. Published by Higher Learning Technologies, Inc. Subscription required: $29.99 monthly, $59.99/3 months, $119.99/annual.
- Sanford Guide - Antimicrobial Rx: Provides infectious disease information including clinical syndromes (by site of infection), pathogens (bacterial, fungal, mycobacterial, parasitic and viral), anti-infective agents (dosing, adverse effects, activity, pharmacology, interactions), dosing tables, calculators, and preventative therapy. Published by Antimicrobial Therapy, Inc. $29.99/year in-App subscription.
Keep in mind that device apps have specific requirements in order to run properly. Prior to downloading, be sure to check the following:
- Compatibility with your device
- Minimum software requirements or operating system
- File size or storage specifications
Do you have a favorite app? Please share in the comments below.
Airth-Kindree, N. & Vandenbark, R.T. (2014). Mobile Applications in Nursing Education and Practice. Nurse Educator. 39(4), 166-169.
Food and Drug Administration (2018). Mobile Medical Applications. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/digital-health/mobile-medical-applications
Research 2 Guidance. (2017). 325,000 mobile health apps available in 2017 – Android now the leading mHealth platform. Retrieved from https://research2guidance.com/325000-mobile-health-apps-available-in-2017/