Mobile apps that provide information about drugs and medications are among the most used medical apps on mobile devices.
Physicians use these apps to address important questions about different medications, including dosing, uses, side effects, interactions, and more, right at the point of care.
Pharmacists use these apps for the same reasons to be able to provide their customers with as much information as possible.
Patients and caregivers also benefit from drug apps, using them mostly to track the medication use and as reminders that help them stay adherent to their regimen.
While usually there is a distinction between the drug apps made for healthcare professionals and patients, sometimes they are made to provide useful information to both.
Michael Guren, a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a licensed Pharmacist, developed Pocket Pharmacist app, a drug information resource for pharmacists, physicians, and nurses as well as caregivers and patients, with a goal to help them all better understand and manage their (patient's) medications.
The app provides drug information on more than 1,700 common medications approved by the USFDA, including interaction checker that lists possible dangerous interactions between different medications.
Patients and their caregivers can also use the app as a medication organizer and reminder. Finally, the users can chat with other app users via online chat forum.
Upon opening Pocket Pharmacist app the brief disclaimer pops up, claiming that the app is only there for informational purposes and that medical care shouldn't be delayed based on the information provided in the app.
The app's interface is really simple, featuring a list of the app's main sections, including Drug Search, Interaction Check, Med Box, Chat, and Drug Quiz.
There's also Help & Information section that provides information about the app, including the legal disclaimer, and a contact for sending feedback.
As its name suggests, Drug Search section allows users to search through the extensive database of 1,700+ FDA-approved medications. Users can look up for drugs by chemical classes, drugs, or therapeutic indications (conditions and symptoms).
The search process is simplified by autocomplete option that populates the list as users type the name of the medication in the search field.
Choosing the drug provides information about the drug class, dosage, indications, side effects, strengths, resources, etc. The information isn't provided in too much detail, but rather briefly, which is more suitable to use at the point of care.
Interaction Check section lets users choose two or more medications and check possible interactions. While the app shows some commonly known indications, such as bleeding risk when taking Warfarin with Aspirin, some indications are not noted, although they exist in reality.
The example is using enalapril (hypertension drug) together with metformin (diabetes drug) that may increase the effects of metformin on lowering blood sugar. Pocket Pharmacy app, however, doesn't indicate this, showing zero precautions, indications, or side effects.
While first two sections of the app are designed for pharmacists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals, Med Box section is more suitable to caregivers and patients.
It is an easy to use medication organizer and reminder that supports multiple patient profiles. Users can add known allergies, medical conditions, and medications to each profile, as well as pharmacies and prescribers from the contact list.
Medications can be connected to medical conditions, and users can set strength, the frequency of taking, and reminder notifications, which is particularly useful for patients who want to stay adherent to their medication regimen.
Once organized in the list, medications can also be checked for possible interactions, which uses the Interaction Checker feature.
Finally, the app users can participate in discussions with other users in the Chat section, which is also more suitable to patients than medical professionals. From what I saw, discussions are quite 'fresh', the most recent being posted a day ago.
Drug Quiz feature is currently not available. There's a 'Coming soon' notification that pops up when you try to open this section.
As said, Pocket Pharmacist app includes more than 1,700 medications in the list that isn't biased, i.e. supported by Big Pharma.
However, this list contains only USFDA-approved medications, but not those which are commonly prescribed in other countries. This is something that people who travel internationally should be aware of.
Also, the app is only available on iOS devices, but not on Android, which is a pity, because there's no similar alternative for users of the most popular open source mobile OS.
Overall, Pocket Pharmacist is an impressive app, especially because it's the effort of just one man who provided pharmacist, physicians, caregivers, and patients with multifunctional pocket drug information resource.
Benefit: The app is useful drug information resource for pharmacists, physicians, and nurses, as well as caregivers and patients