At work, Sermo docs prefer the Epocrates app, MM&M poll finds

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Doctors responding to an MM&M survey hosted by Sermo – a social network for practicing physicians – said they use the Epocrates mobile app more often for work purposes than any other app.

The Epocrates app was a clear winner, with 53 of 73 physicians (73%) naming the drug reference app as one of the most used on a daily basis. WebMD's Medscape app came in second place, with 27 docs (37%) listing Medscape as a most used app on the day-to-day, practice level.

Other apps mentioned included MedCalc, a clinical calculator (11 docs); Stat ICD-9 (11 docs), a diagnosis coding app; and Fingertip Formulary, a health plan and drug tier status reference app. Eleven docs cited the Sermo app as a most-used application. One doc listed Merck's MerckMedicus as a most-used app, and six said they don't currently use any apps at work, but plan to in the near future, according to the poll results.

Basic versions of the most used apps cited by Sermo docs are available free of charge, and indeed, 66% of survey respondents said they prefer free, ad-supported apps over apps that cost money to download. Thirty-four percent said they are willing to pay for an app without advertisements.

Eighty percent of the docs surveyed said they do not use apps developed by pharmaceutical companies, and 20% said they do, according to the survey. Apple's iPhone was the favored mobile device for doctors (40%), with Google's Android in second place (21%), followed by Blackberry at 7%. Six percent said they use both the iPhone and iPad.

In comments on the survey, physicians discussed new tablet announcements at the Consumer Electronics Association's International CES tradeshow last week, as well as the pros and cons of iPhone and Android operating systems. A physician listed in pediatrics on Sermo said “Toshiba's answer to the iPad is due out next spring. Will run Android 3.0, with a bigger screen than the iPad. It's slated to be my next tech purchase.”

Another physician commenting on the larger screen size of upcoming Toshiba and Motorola tablets said a screen size larger than the iPad “will be necessary” for tablets to be increasing useful “in a clinical setting.” A physician in orthopaedics said a “hospital gave me a [Samsung] Galaxy S which runs Android OS (I think?). My personal iPhone is better.”

An emergency medicine physician and an anesthesiologist both said they like Medscape better than Epocrates, but an internal medicine doc said “Epocrates on the iPhone is useful, worth every penny,” suggesting that at least some physicians are willing to pay for upgraded apps.

An internal medicine and pediatrics (med-peds) doctor said in the comments that “after switching from an iPhone to an Android Aria this summer, I noted that Epocrates is noticeably faster on the Android than on the iPhone.”

Sermo, an online physicians' community with over 115,000 members, hosted the MM&M survey on its site beginning January 6. Results are culled from responses posted between January 6 - 10. Seventy-three Sermo members had completed the survey by this morning.

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