There’s an app for that, and it’s not just images anymore

November 30, 2009

Many radiologists have already viewed clinical images on their iPhones, but a study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College finds that there are plenty of other applications, ranging from study aides to clinical data lookups, that may be of value to practicing imagers.

Many radiologists have already viewed clinical images on their iPhones, but a study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College finds that there are plenty of other applications, ranging from study aides to clinical data lookups, that may be of value to practicing imagers.

The study, presented Monday at the RSNA meeting, reviewed 299 medical applications available at iPhone application stores for possible value in imaging practice. The researchers found a surprisingly large number that could be used by radiologists in a variety of ways. Further, they speculated that the latest versions of the iPhone, with GPS capability, could be used by physicians to display "augmented reality" overlays during physical examination of a patient.

The Apple iPhone, with 20% share of the intelligent phone market, has found a solid following among radiologists. The most popular applications today remain the ones that enable image viewing. One common application is Merge Mobile Viewing, a free application that allows users to look at image data sets pushed to the iPhone.

For the study, a panel of two radiologists with informatics backgrounds and three residents reviewed medical applications and rated them for their effectiveness. In the presentation Monday, Dr. Trushar Patel, a Cornell resident, outlined several that radiologists might find useful:

 

  • IChart EMR, at $140, is the priciest of the bunch. It allows users to download patient data such as lab reports.

  • Case Logs. This is actually an app for anesthesiologists, but it could be used to store radiology cases. It sells for $19.99.

  • Musculoskeletal Head and Neck, a medical reference guide, is free. It allows layers to be removed or added, and clicking on a muscle provides details. Different modules are available.

  • MyDictation is a free application that allows the iPhone microphone to be used to dictate cases. Users can then upload them to a server and edit them on the iPhone.

  • Emory/Grady paging, priced at 99¢, allows group paging from a contacts list.

  • DoseCalc is a dose calculator for nuclear medicine. It sells for $1.99.

  • Procedure Consult is a list of procedures with indications and contraindications. There are some videos and hints. It sells for $39.99 and would be a great help for interventional radiologists, Patel said.

  • Radiology Teaching is a $4.99 app that presents a variety of images the user can click and scroll. The sort function allows sorting by unkowns or by known diagnosis; different modules are available.

  • Radiology Estimator is a $1.99 application that operates as an eBay for radiology equipment.

Applications are being developed all the time and the numbers are growing at a stunning rate, Patel said. Most intriguing would be one that used the iPhone's new GPS feature to duplicate what's already being done by services like Yelp, which can present restaurant reviews on the iPhone based on the restaurant's location relative to the user.

No such technology exists in medicine, but someday it might, for example, allow a physician who's found a lump while palpating a patient to move the iPhone over the lump and pull up GPS-based views of that patient's previous radiology images, Patel