New apps make smartphones more valuable than stethoscopes to some docs

A growing number of physicians would rather carry a smartphone than a stethoscope, reports the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. "You've got a whole medical library right in the palm of your hand," Meredith Ressi of Manhattan Research tells the newspaper. "It's really transformative."

Iltifat Husain, founder of, notes that physicians are three times more likely than the general public to have smartphones, and the proliferation of apps for healthcare professionals shows just how eager this market is for easily accessible medical knowledge at the point of care. "We want the data right at our fingertips," Dr. Lars Grimm, who is completing his residency at Duke University Medical Center, tells the Mercury News.

New features such as videoconferencing have unleashed even more smartphone uses. Dr. Lee Rogers, a podiatrist and associate medical director at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, Calif., recently turned to the video chat capabilities of his new iPhone 4 to enlist the help of two other surgeons who were located in Arizona to guide him through a 45-minute surgery to save the foot of a diabetic patient. "They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but a video is worth 100,000 words," Rogers says. "It's amazing how your opinion can change when you're looking at a video."

Naturally--and this should come as no surprise to readers of FierceMobileHealthcare--not all apps are created equal, which is why federal regulators are taking a hard look at the efficacy and safety of medical apps. "When it comes to reference medical apps, you really should only trust the ones from the companies that have been in the ecosystem for a while," Husain, a fourth-year medical student at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, tells the Mercury News.

Other physicians resist smartphones because they worry of privacy risks and because they don't want to feel tethered to their jobs at all hours.

For more:
- take a look at this San Jose Mercury News story