October 22, 2008

My Skyscape: First iPod Touch Medical Reference App

The iPhone could never become truly a handheld computer for the healthcare community until the reference applications could reside on the device. Web-based versions that accessed the database wirelessly have been available but are slow and awkward to use. Now Skyscape has brought their vast selection of titles to the iPhone.

They have done it by making a free portal application My Skyscape available on iTunes. Enter your Skyscape account info and you can then download purchased titles to your iPhone or iPod Touch. They are also giving away some basic titles including their Archimedes medical formula and reference guide.

The current titles appear to follow the basic layout of the Palm OS titles but with some size changes to take advantage of the iPhone's larger screen. Control is easy with a finger and it is a pleasure not to use a stylus.

I tried to buy a title but the app would not let me register. A Skyscape support person tells me it will be one to two weeks before titles will be able to be downloaded. In the meantime you can access the web-based version of purchased titles.

Skyscape has drawn first blood in the medical reference wars. The creation of a portal removes the hassle for Skyscape of putting each title on iTunes. It also lets them keep their subscription model. The portal also lets you keep all your titles under one home page icon. So go ahead and try it, just remember you'll need to wait a bit until you can buy new titles.

For nurse educators the availability of the Skyscape library really makes the iPod Touch the handheld computer to consider first. The ease of installation, use of iTunes for synchronization, and the ability to wirelessly install applications opens a new day in the use of handheld computers in clinical nursing education.

October 4, 2008

The Handheld Computer to Beat for Nurses: Apple iPod Touch

Apple has updated the iPod Touch , adding a speaker, improving battery life, and allowing the addition of third party applications. All at a lower price. An 8 GB Touch is now $229 making it a better bargain than any Palm OS or Windows Mobile device. The ability to show video, browse the Internet with a full-fledged browser, and use healthcare-related applications make it more versatile than any previous handheld.

The iTunes App Store has thousands of applications. The number of useful healthcare apps is still small but growing quickly. Expect to see the classic reference titles for sale soon.

For nurse educators considering which handheld to recommend to students, the iPod Touch must be seriously considered. It provides a powerful computer that will serve students well past graduation. The fact that it is also an iPod only helps make it an easier sale to students.