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The New 3G iPhone, Doctors, The App Store, and Medicine

I've taken a long break from writing about the iPhone, and you might be sick of hearing about it. But be prepared — in less than a month, things are about to get very interesting.

Why? Not only will the new faster & cheaper 3G iPhone be released, but more importantly, the iPhone will now be open to third party software — that is, programs created by developers other than Apple. And why is this important? In the words of David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times, this means there will now be three major operating systems: the Mac, Windows, and the iPhone. (My apologies to Linux.)

This is only a small exaggeration. The iPhone has huge potential as a mobile computing platform, especially for physicians.

Sure, other mobile platforms exist — the Treo, Windows Mobile devices, tablet computers — but none have the graphics capability, the memory, the computing power, the form factor, and the ease of use of the iPhone.

What follows is the result of a brief brainstorming session about potential applications of the iPhone for doctors. Some have already been announced for the iPhone, are available on other platforms, or are currently in development. Let's see how many of these applications are eventually released and sold in the App store. My guess? All of them.
  • Drug database
  • Anatomical atlas
  • Medical calculator
  • Interface for electronic health record
  • Viewer of radiologic images
  • Interface for laboratory results
  • An expert system to help with differential diagnoses
  • Messaging system for laboratory alerts and hospital pages
  • Interface for medical devices (like ultrasounds and EKG machines)
  • Dictation recorder
  • Device for electronic prescribing
  • Device for directly receiving and reading medical journals and podcasts
  • Medical book reader
  • Reminder system for patient visits and meetings synced remotely with the office through Mobile Me
  • Display for patient education videos
  • Medical simulator (ACLS, for example)
  • Telemedicine device (pending the eventual release of iChat and a videoconferencing system)
  • Interface for medical literature searches (Pubmed, Google Scholar)
  • Word processing device for papers (I'm still waiting for a bluetooth keyboard)
  • Communication device for hospital teams (Using Twitter or another system)
  • Secure system for messaging/emailing patients
  • CME course viewer (with text and/or video)
What other application ideas can you come up with?

Related Posts: Previous Tech Medicine Articles on the iPhone

Image Credit: MIMvista


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Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.