J&J offers 'BlackBag' iPhone app for docs

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Johnson & Johnson used its BTW blog to introduce an iPhone app for docs, titled BlackBag. The app was developed internally, and features customizable – by therapeutic area – news feeds, journal summaries, conference coverage, videos and podcasts.

Content delivered through the app – a proverbial medical “black bag” of tools – includes newsfeeds from Reuters, Medical News Today, Health Day and others, according to Lars Merk, product director at Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

According to Merk, J&J developers are "watching user response to determine what might be next," noting that J&J reached out to Sermo docs for insight into what kinds of tools should be added to BlackBag. Regarding branded messages, Merk said there will be "natural points in the app where physicians want branded information such as dosing, safety and patient information...if it is something that healthcare professionals desire we will look to create ways to deliver that information in the app, or through related technologies available on the iPhone." There isn't currently a CME function on the app.

Merk acknowledged that other, similar iPhone apps are available, but noted that iPhone users seldom download just one application. “Certainly Epocrates and [WebMD's] MedScape offer healthcare professionals some very valuable content. The BlackBag app is being designed to take advantage of all the best digital content that is available to healthcare professionals,” said Merk.

Within the first two months of launching, BlackBag was downloaded by approximately 24,000 users, according to the JNJ BTW post. WebMD launched its Medscape app in July – after BlackBag, notes Merk – offering physicians “specialty-specific news,” drug information, clinical reference tools and CME.

The Epocrates iPhone apps offer drug information, prices and other tools, and recently launched an OTC module for non-prescription drug information. Epocrates Rx, Medscape and BlackBag are all available as free downloads at the Apple Store. 

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