Best mobile medical apps to keep your clinical skills sharp

By Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, for MDLinx
Published January 4, 2019

Key Takeaways

Mobile health is big business. The sector boasted an estimated $22 billion in revenue in 2018. Part of this market includes medical apps used by physicians to aid in clinical practice.

Let's look at 7 great apps that can prove beneficial to most clinicians. These apps run on both iOS and Android devices, across a wide range of smartphones and tablets.


Maybe you've fumbled with a model while explaining a condition to your patient and wondered, There must be a better way. Well, there is. With, 3D4Medical apps, you can model disease and pathology for your patients with stunning visual effects. The software comes with three audiences in mind: student, educator, and professional.

With the professional license, visual models are offered for general anatomy as well as for cardiology, neurology, orthopedics, ophthalmology, radiology, and dentistry. The models allow you to rotate, cut, zoom, or view from different angles. Furthermore, the models are animated to aid in patient education. Microscopic views are also available.

Of interest, the app also offers quizzes, a library, and share options so that you can confer with colleagues. An individual Professional Licenses available across all platforms cost $49.99, according to the 3D4Medical website.


Want to see your tax dollars put to good use? The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) is a handy government-issued app that offers a free searchable database of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations. Search and browse the USPSTF database by topic, evidence grade, or specific patient characteristics, such as age, sex, and selected behavioral risk factors. You can also bookmark and email your search results.

The app is designed to help all primary care physicians find clinical preventive services that are appropriate for their patients and is available not only for iOS and Android devices, but for download on laptops or for online use.


Occasionally, you'll encounter a patient whose differential diagnosis is difficult to deduce, or maybe you just want to double-check your thought process. In these cases, click on VisualDx. This app helps build a custom list of differential diagnoses from scratch—starting with a very general chief complaint.

Once you build a list of differential diagnoses, you can search for alternatives or confirm your results. You can also choose to access quick therapy guidelines and resources to educate your patients.

According to its makers, the app more than doubles diagnostic accuracy. A search function is also available to retrieve medical images, which can be used for patient education. Importantly, searches can be turned into CME credit. A basic plan costs $39.99 per month or $399.99 annually.


An oldie but goodie, UpToDate is a one-stop shop for current, peer-reviewed, evidence-based medical information. It offers a broad range of topics on every medical discipline as well as graded treatment recommendations. The app also impresses with a large library of graphics.

The app is free to those who have an UpToDate subscription. For an individual physician, an UpToDate recurring subscription costs $53 per month. If you're with an academic institution or hospital, check to see if you have access through them.


MDCalc provides the clinician with 275-plus clinical tools, including risk scores, algorithms, equations, diagnostic criteria, dosing calculators, and formulas—with more being added on a regular basis. Plus, once you've calculated a score, the app suggests some "next steps" from medical specialty experts.

Created by board-certified emergency physicians, the app is free to download, and doesn't require an internet connection. You can also move your information and preferences seamlessly between the app and the online version. More than 1.5 million medical professionals around the world use MDCalc, according to its developers.


Epocrates is the paragon of medical reference apps. It offers a robust database covering prescribing information, formularies, drug interactions, disease monographs, evidence-based recommendations, ICD-10 codes, and more. Users can also send secure texts to one another or create group chats among care teams. The app's developers say that it saves users an average 20 minutes a day.

While the basic iteration of the app is free, access to full functionality costs $174.99 a year for individual users. However, discounts are available for medical schools and other institutions.


Ever been stumped by a patient who asked about an herbal supplement? HerbList is a free app from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health that serves up research-based data on the safety and efficacy of herbal products.

More than 50 popular herbs are covered, such as kava, acai, ginkgo, and turmeric. For each herb or botanical, the app includes an identifying picture, common names, scientific information about the herb, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information.

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