Epocrates is a professional-quality app that provides an enormous amount of pharmaceutical information in a simple, easy-to-use interface. It taps into a continually updated database of thousands of prescription and nonprescription drugs, and allows you to access that information in a number of interesting ways.
The first time you use Epocrates, you must register the app, provide a contact e-mail address, and answer a few brief questions such as your primary role in using the app. Once you have done that, the app opens to a home screen divided into five sections.
The top section is a search bar. Enter the name of a medication, and Epocrates will provide autocomplete suggestions as you type. When you click one, a Drug Reference page displays entries for the brand name and generic variants. Select any of these to see information about the recommended dosage, the medical conditions for which the drug is prescribed, warnings, contraindications, adverse reactions, drug interactions, safety, pharmacology, the manufacturer, pricing, and pill pictures for identification purposes.
At the bottom of the page are buttons to add the drug to your Favorites list or to move to the InteractionCheck feature. The latter is particularly interesting, as it allows you to select up to 30 medications (both prescription and nonprescription) and check all of their known interactions. This function could be really helpful for people who take more than one medication.
Back on the app’s home screen, the next section is a carousel-style box that cycles through blurbs highlighting the various features of Epocrates. When you click it, the feature activates. Pill ID, a utility that helps you identify an unknown medication based on the physical characteristics of the pill, is one such feature.
Below the carousel is your Favorites box. Beneath that is a Tools section, subdivided into Drug Reference, Tables, and MedMath. Tables is an enormous compendium of diagnostic aids, guidelines, and general references–it amounts to a medical encyclopedia in its own right. MedMath consists of more than 40 medical-formula calculators; Body Mass Index (BMI) and Ideal Body Weight are two such calculators that are useful for almost anyone.
The last home-screen section, labeled Other, contains a history of the items you have previously viewed, as well as a help section that contains a list of medical abbreviations and a link to Epocrates online and e-mail support.
The Epocrates app is intended as a health-care professional’s support tool. It is also available to the general public as an educational tool to assist users in making informed decisions. It is not intended as a substitute for a doctor, but as a reference application it is extremely valuable.