Pocket Medical Encyclopedia v2 for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, November 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Beiks, go to the web site
Requires: Palm OS 3.5 or higher
MSRP: $39.95

North American and European baby-boomers have one common trait that spans all ethnic, religious and racial differences: they're all hypochondriacs to one degree or another. There has never been a generation of parents/adults so keenly tuned to the latest changes in health advice and the latest 'scoops' on medical challenges, home care, medical insurance, naturopathy, pharmacology and everything else connected with illness, wellness and longevity. Why so many North Americans and Europeans are drifting toward overweight, poorly conditioned and stressed out lifestyles is the stuff of endless speculation and demonstrable facts (methinks it all results from lack of exercise, too much fat-laden fried stuff, gigantic portions, not enough vegetables and fruit, etc., etc.). With this kind of lifestyle, it's no wonder so many people are creeping toward incipient hypochondria. And that means we need information, lots of it, about all the diseases we think we've got (or the kids, relatives and neighbors have got). It would also be nice if the information was close at hand, like in a handy-dandy Palm OS or Pocket PC handheld. That's why MedicineNet has released the massively updated v2 of their popular Pocket Medical Encyclopedia. Also of note, Beiks has updated their versatile reader program for Palm OS and bundled it with the Pocket Medical Encyclopedia.

The MedicineNet Pocket Medical Encyclopedia enables anyone with a Palm OS or Pocket PC PDA or smartphone to carry vast amounts of information in their pocket or purse. The information found in the Encyclopedia includes not only standard medical terms but also pertinent scientific items, abbreviations, acronyms, jargon, institutions, projects, symptoms, syndromes, eponyms, and medical history.

The MedicineNet doctors, including William C. Shiel, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.P. and Chief Medical Editor and MedicineNet co-founder, authored the Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary First and Second Editions published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. MedicineNet’s content is used by libraries, government agencies, doctor’s offices, pharmacy networks, hospitals, insurance organizations, medical schools and other healthcare organizations worldwide. MedicineNet itself is an online healthcare publishing company, creating proprietary consumer information that is produced by a network of more than 75 U.S. board-certified physicians. Since 1996, MedicineNet has published easy-to-read, in-depth, authoritative medical information via its robust, user-friendly, interactive web site.

This second release of the Pocket Medical Encyclopedia brings significant improvements in both quantity and quality of content. There are now over 15,000 reference terms, an almost 50% increase over the last release. Due to advanced data compression methods the database size has been decreased and is now under 3 MB. there are now a huge number of embedded links within topics, allowing for single tap navigation between related terms.We were impressed with v1, but this major upgrade is truly authoritative. How good is it really? Well if a huge percentage of 'boomers are now suffering from Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD), Hypertension (high blood pressure) and Cholesterol problems, they need information on Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid (and the entire new class of so-called Proton-Pump Inhibitors used to treat GERD), Losartan, Valsartan and Candesartan (and the rest of the new class of Angiotensin II Receptor Antagonists used to lower blood pressure), and Crestor, Baycol, Pravachol and Zocor (and the rest of the new class of HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, also called Statin drugs, used to lower LDL cholesterol), then the Pocket Medical Encyclopedia should rapidly become your best friend. If you've heard of some malady (or think you're suffering from it), you'll find not only the definition, but also the symptoms, commonly recommended treatments, internal links to related data and a variety of other useful information.

Cons: Somebody please create slightly larger scroll buttons for the otherwise excellent BDicty Reader. The up & down arrows are too small to hit accurately when you're viewing information off-axis (which is to say most of the time). We could also wish for wildcard and Boolean search functionality. The existing search engine is usable (albeit slow), but tends to present you with the very first instance of your search term in the database. That's fine, but if you're doing a search for the word "Lipitor" you really want the major category, rather than being presented with the Atorvastatin definition which happens to contain the first instance in the database of the word Lipitor. The database makes up for this simple searching by linking the search word to its main definition. It may be a bit of a quibble, but we think that a more robust search engine would make this database and reader an absolute best buy for medical professionals and everyone else. The software crashed a couple of times during use on the Sony Clie TH55, but operated flawlessly on our Palm Zire 71 and a Palm Tungsten E. We've experienced other software instability problems on the Clie which don't appear to be a factor on PalmOne or Treo devices. As always, never rely solely on this sort of database as a substitute for medical treatment by licensed, qualified and experienced doctors at recognized medical facilities.

Pros: The new Beiks Reader is faster than the previous version. Databases load faster, lookups are a bit faster, scrolling is smoother and the interface responds faster. The enormous volume of information in the v2 database is very accurate, something we confirmed after checking with a couple of local doctors in general practice and a couple of surgeons (thoracic and neural). We were able to confirm the Pocket Medical Encyclopedia definitions for several diseases that are often misdescribed including Meniere's Disease (a condition characterized by recurrent vertigo accompanied by tinnitus and deafness), Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (primarily a mental illness that is often misdescribed as a criminal act) and a couple of rare enzyme deficiency disorders (Fabry Disease and Hurler's Syndrome) both of which were clearly and accurately described in the Pocket Medical Encyclopedia using several levels of language appropriate for both professional and non-professional readers). Extensive information and definitions for all the latest bugaboos are present in full force so you can get your fill of information on SARS, rhinoviruses of all types and every disease (mental and physical) that's out there. The doctors at MedicineNet are all U.S. board certified physicians and it shows in this product.

The new database is well-organized, just like the previous version. Each drug definition is broken down into subcategories: Generic Name, Grand Name, Drug Class & Mechanism, Prescription, Generic Availability, Preparations, Storage, Prescribed For, Dosing, Drug Interactions, Pregnancy, Nursing Mothers, Side Effects. It provides all the information most doctors need (which means far more than you and I need) and the only thing more comprehensive for any drug is likely to be the full pharmacological product monograph. The diseases definition part of the database is up-to-date and comprehensive and none of the doctors we consulted were able to stump it. We love this stuff because it can prove to be so useful. Another winner from Beiks. Highly recommended.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: whine@kickstartnews.com





© Copyright 2000-2006 kickstartnews.com. All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe