If you’re a health sciences student or professional on-the-go, you might be wishing for an easy, responsive voice search for your phone. Enter [the] Dragon – Nuance Communications’ granddaddy of dictation software and the industry standard for physicians’ medical dictation. Dragon has made a free iOS app for medical term searching. The purpose of Dragon Medical 360 (formerly called Dragon Medical Mobile Search) is to allow voice searching over a collection of useful resources: it includes Google, Medscape, Medline, IMO (preview/trial version that only shows ICD-9-CM codes) and Drugs.mobi.
However, this multiple database feature is not really a big deal. Since you’re already on an iOS device, and you’re already required to be connected to internet service, you can just use Siri (another product of Nuance technology) to voice search each of those databases’ mobile sites as a tab in your browser. Dragon’s only minor advantage is that it searches all the tabs at once – except for Medline. The Medline tab did not show results from my voice search, forcing me to reenter my term. Once I got the results page, I was not able to resize my screen to view them, rendering the whole Medline tab pretty much useless – PubMed mobile is a much better option here.
Dragon’s greatest strength seems to be the ability to easily pull up ICD-9 codes. It doesn’t get much easier than this app for ICD-9 reference.
And what of the voice recognition? Be aware that you may end up typing in your complicated medical terms after all. I tested Dragon 360 with some basic searches. It handled the straightforward queries I posed, such as “hepatitis” or “pregnancy”. Then I tried a series of tougher words:
Sjögren’s syndrome: fail.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: fail.
It did understand a more common eponym – Alzheimer’s.
Speaking of eponyms, there’s an app for that!
The simple app Eponyms performs an equally simple function. It’s a dictionary (derived from eponyms.net) of 1700+ medical eponyms. The menu is straightforward but you have to click on a category or the “All Eponyms” option to reveal the search button. Once you began typing your search the app will auto-populate a list of results. When you select a result, you’re presented with the definition of the eponym. You also have the option to star your favorites to save them in the “Starred Eponyms” category on the main menu.