Survey Says Epocrates Enjoys iPhone Success

By Neil Versel

Sept. 16, 2008 | If the iPhone is the killer app that pushes thousands of physicians to adopt health-IT (see “iPhone Will Change Health-IT, Says Datamonitor”), then the Epocrates Rx drug and formulary reference might be the software equivalent. At least that’s what San Mateo, Calif.-based Epocrates is claiming, based on the results of a customer survey.

Some 25,000 U.S. physicians were among the 125,000 users who downloaded the iPhone version of Epocrates Rx in the first month of availability, Epocrates says. And 72 percent of doctors said the availability of the Epocrates software was “important” or “very important” in their decision to buy an iPhone or the related iPod Touch, according to a survey released Monday.

The results may not be too surprising, based on the longstanding popularity of Epocrates reference tools with clinicians. But the company also reports heavy consumer interest in the new product; perhaps 40,000 non-health care professionals downloaded the iPhone software in the first few weeks after its June release.

“We’ve had many more consumers downloading our iPhone application than our other versions,” says Michelle Snyder, vice president of marketing for Epocrates. Snyder attributes this mostly to the high visibility the product has had in the Apple App Store, helping to draw in customers who otherwise would not be aware of Epocrates.

Epocrates was among the first companies to develop third-party applications for the hot-selling iPhone. (See “Epocrates Coming to an iPhone Near You” and “iPhone Is the Apple of Epocrates’ Eye.”) Epocrates surveyed 303 physicians and 304 consumers in August. All downloaded Epocrates Rx for iPhone or iPod Touch during the first week of availability in June, the company says.

Consumers do seem to like having mobile access to health information. According to the survey, 35 percent of consumers with Epocrates Rx for the iPhone report using the software several times a week, and another 54 percent turn to it once a week. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of consumers have recommended Epocrates to their care providers or plan on doing so in the future.

“Consumers are better monitoring their own care and also managing the care of others,” Snyder says. Indeed, two-thirds of consumers got the Epocrates software to monitor personal conditions. About 23 percent say they were taking care of a relative or friend.

Typical of consumer comments was: “My roommate had a bad allergic reaction to a drug. We contacted her doctor with Epocrates’ information and he changed the medicine.”

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