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The Best Free Medical Apps

The next step after choosing your iOS or Android device, is to choose the best medical applications that answer your most common every day clinical questions. The most common PDA resource used by clinicians is a drug reference follower by disease references. The best products combine both together with links for speedy lookups. All of these recommended apps download and update  to your device when you have internet access, but work when you do not.  Not all clinical areas have WiFi or  cell service so you need some apps that function without it. The following free apps are recommended for all clinicians and can usually be found in the app store by using a name search:

Epocrates Rx The quickest drug database with a drug interaction  program, pill identification with pictures and descriptions, dosing calculator, formulary lists, and basic drug pharmacology. The free version does not include herbals There are several medical calculators and miscellaneous tables. Being able to sort through the different insurance plan formularies for your patients is a huge time and aggravation saver. There is an option to buy a subscription for the integrated clinical content from the British Medical Journal Point of Care, as Epocrates Essentials, but the free Harrison’s Practice may be better choices for disease reference.

Diagnosaurus - a free (or $1) download from McGraw-Hill and Unbound Medicine  is a wonderful e-book on differential diagnosis. It is a quick and easy review to make sure you are thinking of all the possibilities. “One sees what one knows” and this program can broaden your vision with over one thousand diagnosis listed by presenting symptoms, disease or body system. 

Merck Medicus- Mobile  a free download  (This is currently only available as an internet resource 4/1/12) after registration online. A toolbox of linked references is provided including:

  • Harrison's Practice - Answers on Demand.
  • The Merck Manual
  • The Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests.
  • Reuters medical news services
  • Abstracts for the current issue of over 200 medical journals that are searchable on MEDLINE.
  • 18 RSS medical news feeds from the FDA, World Health Organization, National Institute of Health, and AAAS Eureka

Harrisons Practice is an authoritative, evidence based e-textbook organized by a searchable list of symptoms and diseases. Each topic has a basics section with an overview, epidemiology, and pathophysiology. The diagnosis section details the history, physical examination, laboratory test, imaging and differential diagnosis. The treatment section gives pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions  and preventive treatments. The ongoing care section reviews monitoring, complications, prognosis, and prevention. The resources section lists the ICD-9 codes, lists of related topics, Internet sites, and an annotated bibliography with hyperlinks to PubMed. The last section is called pearls, and is a list of clinical summary statements that are valuable to commit to memory. There is a  Drug monograph section that has excellent information provided by Lexi Drugs. One can link to the drug information from the clinical disease article or go directly to the drug monograph. There is no dose calculator, formulary information or Drug-drug interaction checker. The Merck Manual, reads like the classic reference book we all know and love.  The pocket Guide to diagnostic tests details normal ranges, collection methods,  imaging studies, and abnormal value differential diagnosis. All three of these references are cross linked so you can jump to related topics between books with one tap. The medline tool will give you the latest article titles to choose which abstracts you want to read from your favorite medical journals. It is a fast way to keep up with the latest research in your specialty. Overall, this is a must have resource for all providers and the price is fabulous – free.

Skyscape –  is the leader in medical e-books for smartphones and PDAs. There are e-books for sale as subscriptions in every specialty (For  a 25% discount go to ) and they are all cross-linked for easy navigation. They have several free references, guidelines, monographs, and calculators listed at  Some of the useful free resources to have even if you do not want  the e-textbooks include:

  • Archimedes with 130  medical calculations
  • CheckRx , a drug interaction checker called
  • Medical Bag with several topical monographs and tables,
  • Outlines in Clinical Medicine(OCM), a comprehensive, internal medicine resource
  • Rxdrugs  a continually updated drug reference  tool and dosing calculator.

Medscape Mobile –   is owned by WebMD and is a combination medical reference and drug database with over 7,000 prescription, over-the –counter, and herbal drugs. There is a robust drug-drug interaction checker supporting multiple entries. The drugs are listed by class and there is dosing interaction, side effect, pharmacology and cost information. There is no automatic drug dosing calculator or formulary information. The disease section is organized by specialty and has referenced bulleted facts for quick review. There is a clinical procedure and protocol section  with ACLS/BLS, anatomy pictures, tables, lab values and more. CME is provided using case presentations that can be read in down time. There is a WiFi/Cell version that runs on many smartphones that cannot download the full product by directing your phone browser to

 Micromedex Drug Information – at is a extensive drug database with detailed information including pharmacokinetics, monitoring, toxicology and patient education teaching pearls. There is no dosing calculator, formulary information or drug-drug interaction checker. This is currently available for iOS and is in development for Android devices.

 Mobile PDR at  is the electronic version of the paper book published annually. There is a search function and pill pictures. There is no dosing calculator, herbal information, formulary information or drug-drug interaction checker This is available to practicing clinicians with a DEA or NPI number and it works on the Skyscape PDA platform for most devices.


  • Quickest drug dose lookup with the best dose calculator – Epocrates Rx
  • Best drug lookup on a formulary – Epocrates Rx
  • Best pill identification by size and color – Epocrates Rx
  • Best Disease reference – Harrisons Practice in Merck Medicus or Medscape
  • Best one spot look up for disease and drug information including interactions – Medscape (has herbals)
  • Best drug interaction checker with herbals included – Medscape
  • Most extensive drug information – Micromedex or Mobile PDR
  • Best Differential Diagnosis review – Diagnosaurus or Harrisons Practice (search for symptoms)
  • Best Lab Reference - The Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests in Merck Medicus