What's the best app for pharmacology

Medical software for your pocket: drug apps, literature and links

An overview of useful drug compendia and databases currently available for smartphones

Strategies for coping with information overload ”is the title of the lead article in the 2010 Christmas edition of the“ British Medical Journal ”. The quintessence is contained in the first sentence: “You need a machine to help you.” Many doctors already carry this machine in their pocket without using it. Special helper programs for mobile phones, so-called medical apps, make everyday working life much easier. The following comparison of drug apps can help you choose the right program in an area that affects everyone in the clinic.

Currently, around 8,500 medicinal products in more than 40,000 dosage forms and strengths are approved in Germany. In order to maintain an overview, doctors inevitably have to rely on drug compendia and drug databases. Appropriate apps for smartphones are presented without heavy book weight or stationary connection to a computer, but with many additional capabilities such as a search function, barcode reading ability, price comparison and the automatic calculation of drug interactions. Software for the iPhone from Apple as well as for devices from other manufacturers that use the Android operating system were tested. The selection is limited to German-language software. In addition to the language advantage, this contains information on the local pharmaceutical market, which includes both trade names and active ingredients. Those interested in programs in English should take a look at the "Epocrates" and "Medscape" apps.

Arznei aktuell (IFAP GmbH): suitable for iPhone and Android devices, free of charge

Two products that are characterized by their excellent price-performance ratio come from IFAP GmbH. The free program Drug up to date is available for both iPhone and Android devices. It offers all common information on pharmaceuticals, such as dosage forms, ATC codes, side effects, contraindications, pack sizes and pharmacy retail prices (including patient co-payments and the search for the cheapest generic). In the search, the user can enter active ingredients as well as trade names and manufacturers. A list of common diseases with the recommended pharmacological therapy and an ATC / ICD-10 search function complete the program. Since all data is stored on the iPhone, no internet connection is required for operation, the software can always be used.

Arznei Check (IFAP GmbH): currently only available for the iPhone, price: 7.99 euros

The second IFAP app, the Medicinal check (Price: 7.99 euros), is currently only available for the iPhone and allows different drugs to be checked for interactions. The preparations can be searched for using the trade name or recorded using the included barcode scanner. They can then be added to the interaction list, which uses the professional drug database i: fox. A clear traffic light system indicates the existence of interactions. Detailed information on the background of the interaction and the possible effects and risks are always available. In view of the frequency of multimedia and the many possible interactions, this is a highly recommended application. Doctors who cannot use such a computerized information system at work or who work on the move, such as emergency doctors, should definitely get such interaction software. Updates are free of charge for both products after purchase. An internet connection is not required for operation.

Medicines Pocket (Börm-Bruckmeier-Verlag): suitable for the iPhone, price: 4.99 euros

Certainly the most widely used book on pharmacology in everyday clinical practice, the Medicinal Pocket, is also available in electronic form for the iPhone (price: 4.99 euros). The popular "Pocket Plus"Version, which, in addition to medication, also contains therapy recommendations for the 350 most common clinical pictures, costs 19.99 euros and has so far only been published in the version from 2010. According to the structure of the book, the drugs are listed according to clinical area of ​​application. That makes the navigation a bit cumbersome at times. It is positive that the mechanisms of action are also briefly explained. In this way, the entire basic pharmacological knowledge can be refreshed again. While the content is mature, the technical possibilities are unfortunately not exhausted. Apart from the electronic search function, it is a simple eBook (electronic book). These apps from Börm-Bruckmeier-Verlag are expensive because a new version has to be purchased at full price every year instead of an update. A permanent internet connection is not required.

Specialist information (Medicus-42 GmbH): App for the Red List, suitable for the iPhone, price: 2.39 euros

There are also two apps for the “Red List”, the standard work on German pharmaceuticals, implemented by Medicus-42 GmbH. The app is available for 2.39 euros Technical information for the iPhone. This accesses the data on the Red List online and always needs an internet connection to use it. It therefore offers no advantage over the Red List database, which is freely available on the Internet, and is therefore only of limited use in everyday medical practice, when an Internet connection is not always available.

Medicines (Medicus-42 GmbH): suitable for both the iPhone and Android devices, price: 4.99 euros
In contrast, the application can also be used offline Medication can be purchased for 4.99 euros for both the iPhone and Android devices. Unfortunately, regular updates of the database (currently every six months) are chargeable and can be purchased for around five euros each. In view of the fact that this information is freely accessible on the Internet on a daily basis and the app offers no additional use other than a search function, it is not recommended to use it.
MMI Pharmaindex iPlus (New Media Company): App for the Yellow List, suitable for the iPhone, free and paid version

The New Media Company GmbH & Co. KG has the app based on the popular MMI Pharmindex drug database MMI Pharmindex iPlus developed for the iPhone. This program is available in a free version, which is intended for test operation and only contains non-prescription drugs. The user can search for preparations by name, manufacturer or ATC code. Then you will find - very clearly illustrated by symbols - properties such as comments on administration during pregnancy or the divisibility of tablets. Like the basic information listed, this corresponds to the content of the “Yellow List”, which is freely available on the Internet after registration and is also based on the MMI database. Unfortunately, however, the app lacks the "Yellow List Identa" function, which is extremely practical in everyday medical practice, with which unknown drugs can be identified by shape and color. In the next step, photos of the medication in question are displayed so that the patient can recognize his medication even if he does not know the name and indication. Therefore, bookmark this page rather than spend money on the paid version. Since the quarterly update of the database costs 19.90 euros each, without bringing advantages that would not be available online free of charge on a daily basis, no purchase recommendation can be made here.

In summary, we recommend the “Arznei aktuell” app. This costs nothing and is therefore ideal for trying out for the first time. If the information in this app is no longer sufficient, you can purchase the “Medicinal Pocket” for just under five euros or - if the price is not so important - the more luxurious plus version for around 20 euros.

A drug interaction program like “Arznei Check” should not be missing from any doctor, it is certainly worth its one-off price of eight euros. Installation and operation are easy even without special computer knowledge.

The pharmaceutical apps presented can make everyday life a lot easier, but the same applies as for all medical aids: The most important part of the stethoscope is also located between the olives. Raphael Kunisch,

[email protected]

Smith R. Strategies for coping with information overload. BMJ. 2010 Dec15; 341: c7126. doi: 10.1136 /
bmj.c7126. PubMed PMID: 21159764
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