Guest: 5 Ways an iPhone Can Improve Doctor-Patient Relationships

I feel lucky to have people want to post on my blog. Susan Jacobs is a part-time teacher and regular reader. She is also a regular contributor for NOEDb, a site for learning about and selecting an online nursing degree program. Susan invites your comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address .

Ever since Apple announced that third party companies are developing medical applications for the iPhone, predictions on how this will impact the medical industry have run wild. Indeed, the possibilities are endless when doctors have so much information in the palm of their hands.

  1. Easy Drug Reference – One of the biggest names in medical iPhone applications is Epocrates. This company has developed a massive, free online drug reference guide. When prescribing medication, a doctor can quickly double-check any concerns about side effects, drug interactions and more. Also, it is possible that a situation may arise where a patient doesn’t know the name of the medication they are on; only what the pill looks like. Epocrates’ drug reference has a search feature based on a medication’s appearance.
  2. Access to Health Records – More and more patients are allowing their health records to be stored online. With an iPhone, doctors can quickly access a new patient’s health records, should they not be physically available on site. This could be more than convenient; it could save lives.
  3. Quick Second Opinions – How better to serve a patient’s needs than by getting instant advice from another doctor, perhaps a specialist? For instance, a general physician could take a picture of a patient’s skin condition, email it to a dermatologist, and get a quick second opinion. That is just one of the many possibilities available with an iPhone.
  4. Clinical Decision Support – Similar to contacting another doctor, there are applications being designed that offer reliable, clinical decision support. Again, this could improve a doctor’s ability to give a patient the best care possible.
  5. Little Interference – Although physicians could have accessed online information with a personal computer before the advent of the iPhone, this would have certainly interfered with the more intimate communication between doctor and patient when someone’s face is behind a computer. Now, with the aid of a handheld device, the doctor will experience little interruption while seeing a patient.


While the iPhone depends on wireless Internet access to take advantage of online applications, this won’t be a problem for doctors in many medical facilities. Hospitals, in particular, are often wired for broadband access and this kind of support is spreading. Communication between offices is also becoming simpler, more reliable and is using less and less paper. (Many medical administrators would be happy to through their fax machine out the window, no doubt.)

The end of the month holds the iPhone Developer Summit in New York City. With more medical applications to possibly be discussed and showcased, even more possibilities will arise. With a vast database of knowledge at a doctor’s fingertips, patients should feel even more secure with the medical treatment they are receiving.

2 Responses to “Guest: 5 Ways an iPhone Can Improve Doctor-Patient Relationships”

  1. J Shamas (EM Physician) Reply May 1, 2008 at 10:30 am

    the genericmedlist is incredible. I am constantly being asked about cheap drugs and drug lists. Rather than chasing down lists that are being constantly updated, this works! I love it. Thanks for the advice. I’m on the prowl for neat web antics for my iphone to use in my EM practice.

  2. Another drug resource is, which has content formatted for the Safari browser on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

    GenericMedList is a searchable database of discount medication programs such as the Walmart $4/month medications.

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