The Top 10 Apps Improving Doctors’ Lives Incredible apps and companies that are working to make your life easier, and patient care better Practicing medicine in 2015 can be both really rewarding and really difficult. Medicine has been changing incredibly quickly over the past few years, and with short patient visit times, loads of paperwork, intense work schedules, some shrinking wages and ever more demanding patients - it’s a lot for any doctor to handle.  

Luckily, hope for more streamlined and simple patient-provider interactions and care delivery is on the horizon. Doctors, technologists and visionaries are working to create simple solutions for some of medicine’s most complicated practices. Since we know staying on top of all the latest and greatest is difficult for busy professionals, we’ve compiled a list of the top apps that are helping improve doctors lives – apps that are pioneering innovative ways to treat patients, consult with specialists instantly, crowdsource diagnoses, or improve care and efficiency.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 doctor favorites that made our list:

  1. Figure 1 gives doctors access to hundreds of thousands of other doctors at any moment. Users can get instant, specialized feedback from other doctors and provide it themselves too. For some ‘on the front lines’ of medicine - practicing, for example, in developing nations, the app “creates a level of access to professionals and specialists that’s never been available before,” explains the app’s creator Dr. Josh Landy. One notable part of the app is its paging feature. “Figure 1’s paging feature lets healthcare professionals page specialists with a push notification. For instance, people can upload an X-ray and page radiologists for feedback on it. With the paging feature, they’re able to get a number of specialists’ approaches instantly,” explains Dr. Landy. The app is making its way to all parts of the world including by one physician uses it every day to treat patients in a rural community in the Peruvian rainforest. No matter where users practice medicine, this app brings specialist consultations to every doctor’s fingertips.

  2. Coming in a close second, is Doximity. Since launching in 2011, it’s become a beast in the medical world. More than 50% of all US physicians have claimed their profiles - that’s almost twice as many as the American Medical Association. Physicians can share case information via HIPAA-certified faxes, find jobs, and build a reliable profile patients can find easily. How does the app improve doctor’s lives? Dr. Alex Blau, Doximity’s Medical Director put it best: “Doctors have the unique challenge of being limited in the technology they can use to coordinate patient treatment, and yet communication in health care is more important than any other industry. Doximity gives US physicians an easy way to identify appropriate experts for patient referrals or consults across the nation, and securely collaborate on patient care. In addition to making care coordination easier for physicians, Doximity gives them the tools to stay up-to-date on the latest clinical research pertinent to their specialty and manage their careers.” Money Crashers’ Medical Expert, Dr. David Dragoo explains Doximity improves doctors’ lives significantly by providing an efficient space for networking since most doctors are too busy to network in traditional ways.

  3. As far as doctor’s favorite apps go, Share Practice came in a close third. Share Practice is a collaborative medical reference that allows physicians to rate treatments for every diagnosis and essentially crowd-source best practices. This app is especially popular with Naturopathic Doctors who tend to seek alternative treatments. Their website boasts testimonials from practicing doctors who love the company. “Share Practice is easy to use in the exam room. I can verify integrative medicine treatments and feel more confident when other practitioners agree with a treatment,” says Dr. Vani Ghandi, MD. “It’s about time someone created a platform for doctors to crowdsource their knowledge and experience. It’s the coolest thing to be able to learn about different treatments in real time and also to get feedback on treatments that I’ve come to trust,” says Dr. Aron Choi, ND.

  4. Epocrates took the number four spot. This gem of an app has been voted the “Most Important Medical Application” by the annual Modern Healthcare reader survey for three years running. Among its many features are its notable drug interaction checker which can check interactions between up to 30 medications at a time, and its ‘athenaText’ secure messaging platform for care providers to send messages to colleagues or create group chats with care teams. The company reports that on average, physicians save 20 minutes a day by using the app - giving them more time to spend with patients and more peace of mind.

  5. Dr. David Dragoo, Money Crashers’ Medical Expert weighed in for the next top app: VisualDx. The app markets itself as “Accuracy at the speed of sight - Beginning with the entry of a single symptom, the VisualDx builder helps you quickly evaluate possibilities, compare variations, and improve diagnostic accuracy at the point of care.” Essentially it streamlines the process of diagnosing,” explains Dr. Dragoo, “It’s easy and simple to use - you can research a particular diagnosis from the homepage or create a differential comprised of the symptoms reported by a particular patient.”  The app has also won accolades from Harvard Medical School in 2011 when it was named one of the top five medical apps.

  6. SERMO is a private social network for doctors to privately discuss anything that’s on their minds - from changes in health policy, to  the difficulties of running a private practice, or even their opinions on the latest research and medical devices. The anonymity is sometimes therapeutic for many doctors who claim the network and support of peers in the face of burnout is a game-changer. “Regulators are forcing us to comply with rules and physicians hardly get a voice in these regulations. We are made to feel isolated and alone. It’s very overwhelming for doctors and easily leads to burnout. But SERMO is THE place to where we can finally talk and feel like we are not alone. We know that we are all in the same boat,” reports one user. “I think SERMO has nailed it. If I want to read a clinical discussion, I can do that. If I want to read something funny, I can do that. If I want to get into politics, I can do that. If I need help with a patient, I have a place to do that,” says another user.

  7. Next on our list is Iodine - an app that’s quickly becoming the “Yelp of Medicine” - not of doctors like many review sites - rather of medicine itself, like prescriptions and treatments. So what does that look like? Well, with more than 70% of Americans taking at least one prescription drug, the app pulls from every person’s individual experience to lend doctors further insight into how drugs actually affect patients. Users can type in any diagnosis and see what’s working best according to expert reviews and crowdsourced data. If you’re searching for optimized treatment for a specific patient, you can even plug in their age range and sex to get more specific recommendations. How’s it improving doctors’ lives? Dr. Jordan Shlain in San Francisco weighed in, “I have a lot of doctor-facing apps and products available for referencing medications - but nothing like Iodine. It provides me with a clear and fast plain-language, bottom-line assessment. The Iodine app gives me that, along with a good sense of what patients experience in the real world.”

  8. Sherpaa is company created by a doctor to simply other doctors’ lives and improve patient care. It’s not for every doctor, but since it is improving doctors lives who are a part of it, it’s worth mentioning here. The app is a health and wellness service that’s provided on top of traditional insurance plans. Companies like Tumblr and Etsy give their employees 24/7 access to doctors through their phone or computer through Sherpaa. “Our goal is to help patients better understand and navigate their insurance plans and to provide additional medical resources to hand in an easily accessible fashion, taking the strain off of doctors while making healthcare easily accessible and understandable to policyholders,” explains the company. Already, Sherpaa ‘takes care’ of more than 100 companies.

  9. The Skyscape Medical Resources App is “the only decision-support tool for physicians, nurses, students and healthcare professionals with over 400 resources from leading publishers, authors and medical societies. Originally released over 20 years ago as a first mHealth tool of its kind, over its lifetime it has been trusted by more than 2.6 million healthcare professionals to access the medical resources they know and trust at the point of care” says the app’s creators. Dr. David Dragoo of Money Crashers explains “the app comes with medical-based calculators, a comprehensive drug guide, a section on recent medical news and much more. It also serves as a library of sorts to make research for doctors that much easier and convenient.”

  10. Coming in last but definitely not least is SOS, a web app that can be used on any device. The web app is a real time patient workflow software that encourages collaboration and education – most importantly, it allows doctors to perform efficient handoff, which can save lives. SOS was developed by Dr. Auron Priestley for his own use during residency. Now, both UCSF and USC medical centers have incorporated the use of SOS as their internal handoff system. The app is free for physicians and completely HIPAA-compliant. “SOS is designed to work how physicians think,” states Dr. Daniel Caruso, MD FACS, Chairman at the Department of Surgery at Maricopa Integrated Health System, “It’s quick and efficient and I live and die by it (SOS). In the hospital, I have seen people pick it up in seconds; it’s just that easy to use.”