Epocrates Buys Modality to Boost Health Apps on iPhone, iPad

Epocrates has acquired fellow mobile health app company Modality to expand its offerings on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Epocrates, a leading maker of mobile medical software, has acquired health app developer Modality to grow its portfolio on the Apple iOS.

Modality makes digital learning and reference applications for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and has expertise in developing health education apps on Apple's iOS, with more than 140 applications on that platform. Epocrates announced its acquisition of Modality on Nov. 16.

"We have the trust of more than 1 million health care professionals, and with Modality, a richer, advanced Apple development expertise," Epocrates CEO Rose Crane said in a statement. "Together, we will cultivate even more cutting-edge and indispensable apps for clinicians that directly impact patient care."

By acquiring Modality, Epocrates hopes to increase both the number of mobile health apps and their reach to additional devices and ensure that doctors have the mobile app resources available at the patient's bedside.

"As a leader in providing technology solutions, we have a tremendous responsibility to amplify our development efforts that support clinicians' daily workflow and meet their information needs," Crane said.

As a first initiative with Modality under Epocrates' umbrella, the newly merged company will develop multimedia health apps for the iPad, which is becoming increasingly popular in the health care field.

Mobile management software provider Good Technology released a study showing that health care is one of the top three industries using the iPad.

Of iPad deployments, financial services comprised 36 percent, the high-tech sector made up 11.4 percent and the health care industry accounted for 10.5 percent. Companies such as ClearPractice and WebMD have recently unveiled health apps on the iPad.

Epocrates apps are also available on the BlackBerry, Palm, Android, Windows and Mobile. You can also access the Epocrates apps as a Web service.

Components of Epocrates apps include a drug interaction checker, coding reference, a medical dictionary, diagnostic lab tests and a disease-treatment guide.

Epocrates add-on apps offer calculators for BMI (body mass index) and medication doses as well as risk assessments for high cholesterol, heart failure and breast cancer.

Modality offers a free app for the iPad called ModalityBody. In ModalityBody, electronic flash cards allow mobile users to learn parts of the anatomy-including muscles, tissue, tendons and joints-on a clinical level.

Medical publishers such as Elsevier and McGraw-Hill develop educational content for Modality's mobile health apps. One such application, Wheater's Q&A Review of Histology & Basic Pathology, allows users to view 325 images of tissue and pan and zoom using the touch-screen capabilities of the iPhone and iPod Touch.

"Transforming best-in-breed content from the world's largest medical publishers into engaging and powerful mobile user experiences has been our focus for years," S. Mark Williams, Modality's founder and CEO, said in a statement.

"The speed and ease with which a health care professional or medical student is able to access vetted information can make a profound difference in fostering higher levels of engagement among a target user base. We look forward to leveraging Modality's proven approach to application design in expanding and enhancing the solutions available to the extensive Epocrates network."

On Oct. 20, Epocrates announced that it will link its mobile apps to Walgreens' discount medication list to try to get patients to follow through on filling medication.