With all the gift guides flying around the internet this time of year, our thoughts turned to the "gifts" that help us do our work better. Especially during the holiday season, handy tools like smartphone apps can contribute to decreasing provider burnout, a more easeful day, and better patient satisfaction.
As we quizzed our colleagues and dug into the research, we found some interesting trends when it comes to the best medical apps, especially in relation to making your day easier and helping to cut provider burnout:
- People still aren't paying attention to HIPAA. Many people continue to use email, text messaging, and the in-phone camera roll, despite the consequences. Our observation is that apps that aren't HIPAA-compliant actually increase burnout, with the extra worry and stress they cause.
- The humblest apps are the most used. We found that despite the hundreds of complicated apps that exist, the most commonly used are the simplest -- a finding that definitely resonates with our own experience. Sometimes you just need the easiest tool, not the most sophisticated one.
In thinking about the best medical apps to recommend, there are some surprising ones on the list. Here's our rundown, to help make your workday as healthcare providers a little saner -- or even more fun:
- Apps that help you care for patients. There are all kinds of complicated patient communication systems, but some of our favorite apps are simple tools that make it easier to communicate with patients, even when you're in the same room together. Often called "point of care education," these apps range from games to sophisticated modeling programs. Software Advice, a company that reviews medical software, recently put together a list of doctor-recommended education apps that make visits more effective.
- Evernote for studiers. Our medical students may be the most common studiers that use Evernote to keep their thoughts -- and notes -- together. But we all have times when we're "studying," whether for a new research project or to investigate something for our office. Evernote is our favorite study tool, easily syncing across devices and cutting the stress that comes from losing notes.
- Apps for collaborating. Call us biased, but we prefer the label "innovators." Our iClickCare app is still the best, easiest-to-use, medical collaboration app, hands-down. For other kinds of collaboration (document-based and not HIPAA-compliant), like intra-office collaboration on logistics, we look to 37 Signals.
- Oldies but goodies. Everyone knows Epocrates, and for good reason. The app has turned into our medical dictionary, calculator, and encyclopedia -- quickly becoming indespensable.
- Simple browsers. Mobile Safari ends up being the app we use the most. Why? It's adaptable to what we need. Whether it's easily finding a resource for a patient, looking up an address, or learning more about a certain condition, we find that having the "internet in our pocket" makes our lives flow more easily.
- Simple ways to connect with family. As our work lives get crazier, it seems even more important to stay in touch with our loved ones. We love FaceTime for virtual snacktime with a granddaughter, a chat with a spouse, or a check-in with a colleague. And never forget about the power of simply picking up the phone to connect with a friend, family member, or teammate at work!