Lightning Review: Epocrates RX

Today's lightning review: Epocrates Rx, available for free in the App Store. For writing the review, Libuff gets a 25% off coupon to the iPhone Blog Store. A review of a medical app from a genuine paramedic: Epic Win! Interested in getting your own coupon? Read the details on how your own Lightning Review could do just that!

Epocrates is the iPhone version of the famous drug reference software which is available on nearly all portable devices. from Palm to Blackberry to Windows Mobile and now to iPhone. This application is not for just the professional, although most of the information would be over the head of the non-medical professional types. This product is FREE, however an online registration is required, but also FREE. You can register here.

I work as a Paramedic, and as such, drug reference material is very important. We are quite often confronted with a myriad of medications which even the most experienced pharmacists have yet to hear about. Because of the ever expanding amount of medications out there, it becomes important to have dynamic drug references.

I began to use Epocrates on my old Palm Treo 650. Its use on the Treo was basic, but quick and responsive. When I moved to the Blackberry 8830, i also carried over Epocrates. The Blackberry port of Epocrates was pretty close to a failure, just due to the size of the overall program, and its use of one quarter of the system memory (12mb out of 48 mb free).

However, the iPhone version of Epocrates has exceeded every one of my dreams of what a drug reference could be. I personally use this application no less than 5 times a day. below is a brief tour of the product.

The home screen allows you to enter the drug name, either trade or generic to pull up information. This is nearly the ONLY failure of the software, as its search feature is as slow as the contact list, granted, it has WAY more entries than my 300 contacts.

Above, dynamic searching. Begin to enter the drug name and it finds matching drugs. I'm searching for Aspirin. Once you select a drug, it breaks the information down into Adult/Peds dosing, Black Box Warnings, Cautions/Contraindictions, Adverse Reactinos, Drug Interactions, Safety/Monitoring, Pill Pictures, etc.

Pill Pictures is the BEST part of this product. My patients often remember PART of the drug name, so I search for the part, figure what its for, and demonstrate the pictures of the Pills, and my patients go "yeah, that's the one."

You can enter multiple drugs here, it will tell you if there are any harmful interactions or cautions between drugs. Very good thing to do when you have multiple doctors who prescribe drugs without knowing each other.

I often get confronted with a pill box and nondescript pills. The Pill ID section allows you to define the picture of the pill and search from there.

Conclusion

Overall this application is FAR and AWAY better than any other version of the same product, found on Palm or Blackberry, although I have no experience with the Windows Mobile version.

I recommend this product to medical professional and for persons with multiple medical problems who take a laundry list of medications. Referencing your own prescription information is very important, and the Interactions section has saved my own family lives, as doctors and pharmacists are just human and errors can occur.

4.8/5 - they lost 0.2 points for the slow search features, if they optimize that, we'd be at a 5/5.

(as a side note - Pill Pictures require an active internet connection, all other information is stored on the iPhone locally.)

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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Lightning Review: Epocrates RX

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Great review of a great app. It's safe to say that my family gets a lot of use out of our prescription plan. Over the last year I need the interactions, recognition, side effect and information features so I was truly happy to download this free app. In just 10 days of iPhone ownership I've used it 3 times already. Great big thumbs up from me.

Another negative of the app - only US drug names. Where other drug guides published in North America include Canadian names of drugs, many of which are different, ePocrates has never included them in any of its products. At some point perhaps they'll choose to include the information if they wish to compete with the likes of Skyscape or USBMIS.

That's pretty cool. The pill ID could really use the ability to take a picture with the iPhone camera and identify the pills automatically, though. If Shazam can identify music accurately in a crowded bar, photo IDing pills should be a cakewalk. ;-)

Great review! I'm going to be sure that my Mom gets that app on her iPhone. What a cool app and it's great to hear how well it works on the iPhone.