Health IT

athenahealth + Epocrates’ first app helps docs prescribe antibiotics using local infection data

athenahealth’s January acquisition of mobile health company Epocrates has generated its first market-ready byproduct, as the two brands today announced a joint mobile app called “Bugs + Drugs.” The app for physicians pairs Epocrates’ mobile mastery and clinical content with data from the more than 40 million medical records athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN) hosts in the cloud. […]

athenahealth’s January acquisition of mobile health company Epocrates has generated its first market-ready byproduct, as the two brands today announced a joint mobile app called “Bugs + Drugs.”

The app for physicians pairs Epocrates’ mobile mastery and clinical content with data from the more than 40 million medical records athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN) hosts in the cloud. It’s intended to identify bacteria types that are pervasive in a patient’s geographic area and helps the doctor choose the most appropriate antibiotic to prescribe.

After downloading the app, which was designed for iOS7, doctors plug in the patient’s location and are presented with a list of the most common bacterial infections recorded in athenahealth records in that area. It also generates a list of drug options based on susceptibility and displays information on the drugs from the Epocrates database. That could be especially useful for doctors outside of hospitals who might not be as tuned-into which bugs are going around.

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“It helps physicians identify common and uncommon bugs in the areas where their patients live and offers critical information to formulate the best treatment plan,” said Dr. Anne Meneghetti, executive director of medical information at Epocrates, in a statement. “Decisions made in those moments (of care) can affect future antibiotic resistance for the entire population.”

Indeed, antibiotic-resistant superbugs are becoming increasingly problematic. A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimated that 2 million people in the U.S. contract infections that are resistant to antibiotics each year, and 23,000 die from them. The agency reported that overuse of antibiotics has put momentum behind the development of superbugs like C. difficile, now the most common hospital-associated infection of the U.S.

I haven’t seen it yet, but in concept this app seems to be both timely and smart, combining some of the most valuable assets of both companies. Remember back when athenahealth acquired Epocrates, CEO Jonathan Bush said he hoped Epocrates would bring better name recognition and a better user experience to athenahealth? Let’s see what happens.

Bugs + Drugs is available for free in the App Store.

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